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Presented to the 
library of the 


the estate of 










City Planning 


June 7-9, 1915 




The City Plan Defined by a Municipal Engineer. Nelson P. PA gb 
Lewis, Chief Engineer, Board of Estimate and Apportionment, 
New York City 1 

An Architect's View op City Planning. R. C. Sturgis, Presi- 
dent American Institute of Architects, Boston 13 

The~City Plan op Detroit. Edward H. Bennett, Consultant in 

City Planning, Chicago 21 

Six Years of City Planning in the United States. Flavel Shurt- 

leff, Esq., Secretary of the Conference 33 

Best Methods of Land Subdivision 

Introduction, John Nolen, Member American Soc. of Landscape 
Architects, Cambridge, Mass 247 

Report of Conference Committee. Presented by E. P. Good- 
rich, Consulting Engineer, Borough of Manhattan, New York . 45 

Report of Local Committees 

Newark Report. Presented by Harland Bartholomew, Sec- 
retary City Plan Commission 56 

Philadelphia Report. Presented by Joseph Johnson, Bu- 
reau of Survey, Philadelphia 62 

Louisville Report. Presented by J. C. Murphy, Member 

American Institute of Architects 66 

Point of View of the Real Estate Developer. Paul A. 
Harsch, Toledo * 71 


Led by Lee J. Ninde, Chairman City Planning Committee, 
National Assn. of Real Estate Exchanges; King G. Thomp- 
son, Columbus, O 80 

Architectural Side of City Planning 
Papers by: 

Frederick L. Ackerman, Member American Institute of Archi- 
tects, New York City. A. A. Stoughton, Member American 
Institute of Architects, Winnipeg. George B. Ford, Chair- 
man Town Planning Committee, American Institute of Archi- 
tects 107 



Constitution and Powebs of a City Planning Authority. Robert PA ai> 
H. Whitten, Secretary City Plan Committee, Board of Esti- 
mate and Apportionment, New York City 135 

Some Aspects op City Planning Administration in Europe. Frank 

B. Williams, Esq., New York City 144 


Led by Thomas Adams, Town Planning Adviser, Commission of 
Conservation, Ottawa. A. L. Brockway, Chairman City Plan 
Commission, Syracuse. Austin H. McGregor, President City 
Plan Commission, Newark 155 

Remarks at the Closing Dinner 

Charles Moore, Toastmaster, Chairman Commission of Fine 
Arts, Detroit. Edward M. Bassett, Esq., Chairman Com- 
mission on Heights of New York Buildings. Cass Gilbebt, 
Member Commission of Fine Arts, New York City. Thomas 
Adams, Town Planning Adviser, Commission of Conservation, 
Ottawa. Andbew Wright Crawford, Esq., Secretary Art 
Jury, Philadelphia 201 

Cooperation in City Planning. The transactions of a conference 

of national associations interested in the subject of City Planning 231 

Meeting 241 


A. Best Methods op Land Subdivision 247 

B. Constitution and Powers of a City Planning Authobity 274 



Nelson P. Lewis 

Chief Engineer, Board of Estimate and Apportionment, New York City 

Owing to the unfortunate indisposition of the Chair- 
man, the Vice-Chairman finds himself down on the program 
for an address. When advised of this, the first thing he 
did was to look over the proceedings of earlier conferences 
in order to see what Mr. Olmsted had said or rather what 
he had left unsaid. The general impression gained was 
that he had very completely covered the field and that there 
was little left for the present speaker. Perhaps he might 
attempt to write an overture to the performance which is 
to follow, indicating briefly the ground to be covered by 
the papers, discussions and reports which are to be pre- 
sented; but that might be unfair to those who have pre- 
pared them, unless it be that their completeness and thor- 
oughness might be emphasized by the very superficial man- 
ner of the attempted outline. 

I have concluded to present a few observations, not on 
city planning as commonly understood, but on the city 
plan, and endeavor to indicate what it is ; and these obser- 
vations will be those of a municipal engineer who, while 
he may not have the artistic ideals so happily possessed by 
other members of the Conference, has had strongly im- 
pressed upon him a realization of the shortcomings of the 
conventional plans of his own and of other American cities, 
most of which, it must be confessed, have been made by 
engineers or rather by surveyors. What then is this thing 
that we speak of as a city plan? The idea most commonly 
conveyed by the term is a map showing the boundaries of 



the city and the street system which already exists and 
such streets as have been laid out for future development. 
It is primarily a map, the basis of which is a survey. The 
Charter of the City of New York describes the city plan 
as a permanent map " showing the parks, streets, bridges 
and tunnels, and approaches to bridges and tunnels as 
heretofore laid out, adopted and established pursuant to 
law, and the maps and profiles included in or accompany- 
ing the same showing the grades of such streets duly fixed, 
adopted and established." The preparation of such a plan 
is little more than surveying, more or less precise survey- 
ing, it may be, but it may involve little study of the needs 
of the community, little sympathy with the traditions and 
ideals of its people, little exercise of imagination as to its 
future development and requirements. A plan of and for 
a city is not simply a map showing the streets, parks, 
bridges and tunnels and their approaches " as heretofore 
laid out, adopted and established pursuant to law." That 
is chiefly a record of what has already been done and can- 
not be changed without great expense; a record of the 
mistakes which have been made through lack of foresight 
and imagination. Not that such mistakes were necessarily 
due to stupidity, for a generation ago no one could have 
foreseen the marvelous development of our cities or the 
great social and economic changes brought about by recent 
inventions which have so greatly facilitated transit and 
other means of communication. The city plan as above 
defined is too minute as to details and ignores the city as 
a whole, not only as it is, but as it will be. 

A real plan is rather the general system of arterial 
streets and transportation lines by which the different sec- 
tions of the existing and the future city will be connected 
with each other and with centers of population outside of 
the city limits ; parks and open spaces and other resorts 
for recreation and amusement; the existing water front 
development and the space needed for its further increase; 
existing public and semi-public buildings and sites for those 



which may be required in the future. This is the real city 
plan which will control future development, stimulating 
it or retarding it as the case may be. The block dimen- 
sions and angles, the widths of minor streets and the sub- 
division into a vast number of rectangular blocks of stand- 
ard size, with an explanation of or an apology for every 
departure from that standard do not constitute the city 
plan, the Charter of the City of New York to the contrary 
notwithstanding. The city plan is something bigger and 
broader. It is something to which the city may grow, not 
something to which it must be restricted or within which it 
must be confined as in a strait jacket. 

The economic considerations which should control city 
planning are precisely those which should prevail in the de- 
sign of a house, shop, railway terminal or water supply 
system ; namely, adaptation to probable or possible increase 
in demand and capacity to supply that demand. If the 
manufactory or the railway is foreordained to failure, the 
less expended upon it the better. There are a few towns 
which were laid out during " boom " periods on lines which 
were fancied to be those of a future metropolis, where the 
broad streets are grass grown, where the public buildings 
are but half occupied and where everything speaks of a 
splendid ambition which resulted in grotesque failure. 
When a city, occupying a strategic position, has begun a 
natural development which causes growing pains indicative 
of a misfit in its general plan, it is time to look toward the 
future, to adjust the plan to new conditions and to provide 
for still further growth. To tear down and enlarge is very 
costly, especially so when there is no room for enlargement 
without the purchase of additional land which has become 
far more valuable than when the original enterprise was be- 
gun. This is constantly being done by individuals and cor- 
porations whose domestic or business requirements make it 
necessary. In any case it involves a distinct loss which may 
be justified by the means of indulging in a luxury or by 
the prospect of increased profit. Cannot the city, it may 



be asked, instead of trying to provide for the remote future, 
well afford the expense of reconstruction to adapt itself 
to its growing needs, especially when it has the power, 
through its ability to levy taxes and assessments, to impose 
the cost of the necessary changes upon the property which 
will be chiefly benefited? No expense involving the de- 
struction of property can be justified if it can be avoided 
by the exercise of reasonable forethought, and the taxing 
power of the city should not be used unnecessarily. The 
requirements of the modern city are so great that the 
burden of taxation will inevitably be heavy. Improvements 
in the city plan may increase values to such a degree that 
they would be cheap at almost any price, but if the plan 
could be so made as to avoid the necessity for destructive 
changes, both the city_at large and the individual property 
owner will be the gainers. To defer the correction of mis- 
takes which are quite apparent in well developed sections 
of the city or to put off the adoption of a broader policy 
for those in process of development because land is ex- 
pensive and costly improvements would be destroyed is not 
unnatural even though unwise. To fail to take advantage 
of such object lessons in parts of the city where there are 
few, if any, improvements or where the street plan has not 
yet been definitely fixed is the height of folly. 

Few writers on city planning have defined the elements of 
a comprehensive city plan, and most of those doing so have 
laid special emphasis upon the organization and administra- 
tion of the city, particularly its social activities. The 
convenience and attractiveness of a city will depend con- 
spicuously upon four features of its physical plan. 

The first of them is the transportation system, or the 
means provided for getting in and out of the city, and for 
quick movement of passengers and freight from one part 
of the town to another. It is obvious that transit needs 
cannot be accurately foreseen, but provision should be made 
for improving and extending them when needed. A large 
part of the transportation will always be in the streets 



themselves, and its adequacy and efficiency will be largely 
determined by the location and dimensions of the streets 
in which the intra-urban transit lines are located. The 
difficulties which are presented in providing an adequate 
system of transportation within a city lacking in streets 
sufficiently wide to accommodate them is admirably illus- 
trated by the case of the two track rapid transit subway 
about to be built under William Street in New York City. 
This street is 40 feet wide and the width of excavation re- 
quired for the subway is 29 feet, which at stations will be 
increased to the full width between building lines. The 
depth of the subway will vary from 25 to 31 feet below the 
surface and in general will be from 3 to 5 feet below 
mean high tide, reaching at one place a depth of 14 and at 
another place 20 feet below high water. The estimated 
cost of this one-half mile of railway, based upon the lowest 
bid, is $2*,254,670, or about $850 a linear foot. 

The great cost of this work is in large measure due to 
the fact that it was necessary to underpin the foundations 
of a number of tall buildings, 45 of which under 7 stories 
in height have an assessed value of $7,000,000, 20 of from 
7 to 12 stories are assessed at $18,000,000, and 10 from 13 
to 20 stories in height have an assessed value of $15,- 
000,000. It will be difficult to find a more forcible illustra- 
tion of the need of providing in the plan of a city sufficient 
streets whose position will make them available for rapid 
transit routes and whose widths will be sufficient to permit 
the construction of such lines without an expense which 
would be prohibitive in most cities. 

The second feature is the street system in and through 
which the daily business is done and, by which the people 
gain access to their homes and pass from these homes to 
their work, recreation and amusement. A street system 
once adopted and developed must remain indefinitely. 
While some streets may be widened and an occasional new 
street may be cut through existing improvements, the gen- 
eral street plan, once established and constructed, is fastened 



upon the city as long as the city itself lasts. A catastrophe 
such as the great fire of London in 1666 or the San Fran- 
cisco fire in 1906 may afford an opportunity for a recast- 
ing of the plan for a considerable area, but it is seldom 
availed of. 

Few cities have a street system which has been planned 
as a unit. In Europe they have had their beginning in a 
cluster of houses built under the shadow of a feudal castle. 
In this country the most fortunate of them have had their 
beginning in a New England village green, which has made 
an admirable starting point. The plans for subsequent 
additions have often been a matter of chance. There are 
a few instances where plans were made in anticipation of 
many years of growth, one of the most conspicuous being 
that of New York, which in 1807 authorized the preparation 
of a plan covering all of Manhattan Island. The consid- 
erations which determined the character of this plan, as 
outlined in the report of the commission, are interesting. 
They debated whether or not they should follow the con- 
ventional system of planning a city by dividing it into a 
great number of rectangular blocks or whether they should 
adopt some other general plan. After careful considera- 
tion they reached the conclusion that " a city must be 
composed principally of the habitations of men and that 
straight-sides and right-angled houses are the most cheap 
to build and the most convenient to live in. The effect 
of these plain and simple reflections was decisive," and 
New York has suffered ever since from the limitations im- 
posed upon it by this checkerboard plan which, while it 
may permit the building of houses which are cheap and 
convenient to live in, makes movement about its streets 
anything but convenient. At the time this commission made 
its report Major L'Enfant had produced his admirable 
plan for the national capitol of Washington, and even a 
century and a half before that time plans had been pro- 
posed for the rebuilding of London after the great fire of 
1666 which recognized the defects of rectangular planning 



and the advantages of the creation of focal points and 
radial and diagonal streets. These radial streets and 
circumferential thoroughfares are conspicuous features of 
many European cities, and their wisdom in providing for 
them has often been pointed out, but too much credit should 
not be given them. They were formerly walled cities, and 
within the walls there were narrow streets, extreme conges- 
tion and the worst possible sanitary conditions. A few 
highways led out of the city through the walls and into 
the open country, but these were not designed as arteries 
of traffic required by and contributing to peaceful com- 
merce; they were routes of advance against or retreat be- 
fore attacking forces or were designed to facilitate preda- 
tory raids. When peace rather than war became a normal 
condition and the city walls could safely be demolished 
and the moats filled up, the possibility of converting the 
space occupied by them into great ring streets or boulevards 
and their peculiar availability for this purpose became 
apparent. But few towns in America have old walls which 
they can convert into such streets, yet their advantages 
are so obvious that they are being planned by many great 
cities, some of them at enormous cost for land and build- 
ings which must be destroyed and with entire disarrange- 
ment of the existing street system. One of the character- 
istics of such city planning, as has been done in this coun- 
try, is the adoption of a standard lot and block unit and 
the combination of these standard blocks into series which 
will determine the location of what are to become the 
secondary and even the principal arteries of traffic. This 
is a reversal of the natural and the logical method in which 
a city should develop. The standard lot and block is a 
habit which has persisted with no very good reason. The 
lot unit may differ in different cities, but once adopted it 
has been adhered to with surprising fidelity in each city. 
In New York this lot unit is 25 by 100 feet ; in Chicago it is 
25 by 125 feet; in Philadelphia the blocks were originally 
laid out 400 feet square and many of these have been sub- 



divided by two separate streets each 40 feet wide into three 
blocks 400 feet long and about 107 feet wide. After pro- 
viding narrow passages 3 feet wide through the center of 
each of these long blocks, the resulting lots are about 52 
feet deep and many of them are but 14 feet wide, the 
minimum width of lot for a dwelling house which is per- 
mitted by the city ordinances, resulting in provision for 
168 separate buildings on this original block, or at the 
rate of 46 buildings to an acre. If the arterial and sec- 
ondary streets had first been located in a rational manner 
and the subdivision of these areas had been controlled by 
them 1 instead of being allowed to control them, many of our 
cities would have more distinctive character and would be 
far more attractive and livable. 

The third element includes the park and recreation facili- 
ties, upon which the comfort and health of the community 
are to a large degree dependent. It is true that a lack of 
proper parks may be supplied at any time, even when the 
space to be devoted to that purpose shall have been built 
upon and when the cost of their acquisition will be greatly 
enhanced, but a park system can be most economically and 
satisfactorily established in advance of other improvements, 
and facility of access to them and proper connections be- 
tween the different park units will depend upon the street 
system, so that the park plan should be worked out in con- 
nection with the street plan. 

The future park needs of a city cannot be accurately 
anticipated. They will depend upon the density of popu- 
lation and the occupation of the people. The industrial 
town or district obviously needs a greater park space than 
a high class residential district, and yet it usually has less. 
Mr. Charles Downing Lay, formerly landscape architect of 
the New York Park Department, estimates the park needs 
of a city of 100,000 population at 1500 acres, or 12% per 
cent of the city area. This would mean that with a den- 
sity of population of but 8% persons to the acre there 
would be one acre of park to every 66% people. Statistics 



of 22 cities varying in size from London to Rochester, 
N. Y., show an average density of population of 30.5 per 
acre, a park area of 6.32 per cent that of the city and one 
acre of park to 483 persons. Variations, however, are ex- 
treme. Berlin, with a density of population of 133 to the 
acre, has 7 per cent of its area in parks, or one acre of 
park to 2014 persons. In London, with a density of 60, 
9 per cent of the area is devoted to parks, or one acre to 
677 people. In New York these figures are 28, 4 and 689 
respectively; in Washington they are 9, 14 and 68, while 
Kansas City has a density of population of only 8 to the 
acre and has 5 per cent of its area devoted to parks, or 
one acre to 144 persons. In providing park areas for the 
future city it is very advantageous to buy acreage property 
in anticipation of future needs ; out of these areas the parks 
can be made and the surplusage, if any, may be sold at an 
advanced price which will go far toward meeting the cost 
of the park investment. * 

The fourth element referred to is the location of public 
buildings, which may render the conduct of public business 
convenient or difficult and may give a favorable or unfavor- 
able impression to visitors. Public buildings like business 
buildings can be changed in location as necessity and con- 
venience may require, but the suitability of their sites, 
whether they are convenient and commanding or awk- 
ward and unprepossessing, will depend upon the streets 
about them and leading to them, so that the location of 
these buildings should receive the most careful study in 
the preparation of the general plan of the city. 

The location of public buildings is a subject which 
has received not too much attention, but a proportion- 
ately greater share of study than have the other ele- 
ments which have been enumerated. A visitor to a city 
cannot appreciate the merits or defects of its street 
system until it has been studied, but the dignity and 
the effective arrangement of its public buildings will at- 
tract attention at once. But why confine the study of 



this problem to the great buildings, the City Hall, the 
Court House, the libraries, the museums, the university, 
and leave the location of the subordinate buildings to 
chance? And yet this is the practice which is usually 
followed even in the most ambitious schemes for citj 7 
planning. Why should not certain municipal blocks be 
set aside for the accommodation in one block of a high 
school, a grammar school, a branch library, a public 
bath; in another block a police station, a fire engine 
house, a municipal garage or stable, and a repair shop? 
These various buildings could be designed to harmonize 
with each other and the city would acquire a distinction 
by such grouping, while the expense of heating, mainte- 
nance and repairs would be considerably decreased. As to 
buildings of a semi-public character, such as railway sta- 
tions, places of amusement, churches, etc., if the street sys- 
tem is so planned as to furnish advantageous sites which 
would permit buildings of this character to be seen to advan- 
tage and through which they could be conveniently ap- 
proached, they would doubtless be availed of for the purpose. 

There are many other details which, while less funda- 
mental than those already referred to, are of the utmost 
importance, such as the proper proportion of roadway 
and sidewalks to afford the maximum of accommodation 
for the kind of traffic on each street, the design and loca- 
tion of lamp posts and the effective lighting of the streets, 
an intelligent plan for tree planting which will result in 
the best results so far as the appearance of the streets are 
concerned and will at the same time give the trees a fair 
opportunity to grow, the location and maintenance of un- 
derground structures so as to reduce to a minimum the 
mutilation of street pavements in order to gain access 
to them. These, however, might be called questions of 
administration which must be met and solved long after the 
general plan of the city has been determined. 

The responsibility of the municipal engineer for the 
future planning of our cities is very great, and at the 



same time an opportunity is presented which should be 
welcomed. The exercise of vision arid imagination on 
their part has too often been deemed a dangerous incur- 
sion into a field foreign to their proper activities, and yet 
the engineer is the first man on the ground in laying the 
foundations upon which our cities are to be built. He has 
been too prone to regard this preliminary work as a mere 
matter of surveying and he has been more intent upon 
the accuracy of his measurement of lines and angles and 
of his computation of areas than upon the larger problem 
of providing for the orderly and sightly development 
of the city. His eyes have been so closely fixed upon the 
drawing board that he has seldom looked up to catch a 
vision of the great city that is to come, the complex 
organism known as the modern city with its varied activi- 
ties, its difficult social problems, its ugliness or its beauty, 
its awkwardness or its convenience, its capacity to debase 
or to elevate its citizens. Every blunder that he makes 
will afford an opportunity for some one else to win ap- 
plause for a plan to correct it through large expenditure 
of public funds. It often seems as if the admiration ex- 
cited by what are commonly called city planning projects 
is in direct proportion to the amount of destruction of 
existing improvements and the extent of the disarrange- 
ment of the existing plan which may be involved. If 
you are going to dream, we are told, dream a big dream 
and the people will look and admire; but these big dreams 
appear always to involve the spectacular making over of 
a big city and rarely the planning of a city not yet come 
into being or even of a city which is just beginning to give 
promise of rapid growth, although still in a formative state. 
Planning of this latter kind will not bring applause ; genius 
devoted to such work will not win prompt recognition. The 
merits of such a constructive plan may not be appreciated 
during the lifetime of the man responsible for it. L 'Enfant 
died many years before his plan for Washington was real- 
ized to be anything more than a fanciful sketch. 



The speaker does not envy the architect who offers an 
ingenious and effective solution of a difficulty caused by 
lack of foresight in city planning, but he deplores the 
fact that such blunders have been so commonly made by 
engineers, and more particularly the fact that the en- 
gineers are so inclined to go on repeating the same mis- 
takes. The making of a comprehensive plan for the 
future development of a city or for correcting the obvious 
defects of an existing plan is not the work of a few weeks 
or months or even years. It is more likely to be the 
result of many years of patient work, and the men who 
did it will be forgotten before it is finally carried out. 
It is no one man job and it is never actually finished. 
However carefully and skillfully the first plan may have 
been made, unforeseen changes will take place, new 
methods of transportation will be developed, new inven- 
tions will powerfully affect the social life of the com- 
munity, and the plan, where still susceptible of change, 
must be modified to meet these changed conditions. The 
groundwork of a comprehensive city plan must obviously 
be laid by the regularly employed technical staff of the 
city with the aid of special expert advisers; but the or- 
ganization created for this purpose should be carefully 
selected. It should contain men who are familiar with 
the past history and traditions of the community and 
are in sympathy with them, but who can appreciate chang- 
ing conditions and adapt the old to the new without de- 
stroying it. The work should be directed by men who do 
not think the exercise of imagination an engineering 
crime; men who are enthusiasts without being doctrin- 
aires; men who are content to do their work well without 
hope of popular applause and who are willing to await 
the verdict as to their work which will be rendered by coming 
generations. They will not, however, be obliged to wait 
indefinitely for recognition if they manifest an intelligent 
interest in this subject and an appreciation of its 



R. Cupston Sturgis 
President, American Institute of Architects, Boston 

I appreciate very much indeed this opportunity, almost 
a chance opportunity, to be with you here tonight and to 
speak to you about a subject that you have very much at 
heart and that I also am extremely interested in, although 
I am quite willing to confess myself quite ignorant about it. 
And it is because I feel more or less of an amateur about 
city planning, and because I do not know very much about 
the subject and have not given it the sort of study that it 
deserves, that I feel quite free to talk about it. 

It seems to me that town planning has two very distinct 
elements, without which it cannot be successful. And I 
am going to dwell, if I may, for just a few minutes on two 
thoughts: one, that it requires that commonest of all 
qualities, common sense, and the other that it requires con- 
tinuity of policy, a thing of which we so seldom see any 
sign in this country. 

Common sense then, should be applied to this question 
of laying out streets in a city thoroughfare for the pur- 
pose of getting from point to point, for the purpose of 
allowing the people and the traffic, in such numbers as 
may be naturally aligned in certain districts, through from 
one point to another. If they are going to be laid out on 
perfectly level land, it seems reasonable enough that streets 
should be laid out rectangularly. If they are laid out on 
undulating land, it seems perfectly reasonable that they 
should be laid out as you naturally walk or drive or lay 
out the roads, if you are not an architect or engineer, in 
the simplest and easiest way to get from point to point. 



So those two methods have been spoken of as if they were 
to be methods that were in conflict and as if the checker- 
board pattern was one scheme and had its enthusiastic sup- 
porters in the dark ages perhaps, and that another scheme 
that departed from the checkerboard had its enthusiastic 
supporters today. It seems to me that they are both logi- 
cal under certain circumstances. What we really desire is 
an easy and direct way of getting from point to point. And 
the checkerboard, as a matter of fact, is not an easy way, 
and however clear and accurate it appears to be, as a mat- 
ter of fact a city laid out on the checkerboard plan is the 
most confusing place to find your way about in that 
there is. 

It is quite as difficult for the stranger to find his way 
about in the part of New York that is absolutely checker- 
board — well not quite as difficult, but nearly as difficult 
— as it is for him to find his way about in Boston. 

Now regularity tends to confusion, while irregularity, 
as a matter of fact, tends to distinctness and allows one to 
find one's way readily. I venture to say that it is far 
easier for a stranger, after a few days in London, to find 
his way about there because it is irregular, because it is 
marked at various points by squares and circles so distinc- 
tive that when he reaches them he recognizes them and so 
knows where he is. 

So that it seems to me that common sense more than any- 
thing else is required in the laying out of city streets so 
that they will serve the actual needs, meet the actual con- 
ditions of the contours and the actual needs of the people 
that are going to use the streets. 

The other purpose of the streets is to bound lots, the 
places that are left for building. Of course it is perfectly 
true, as our early ancestors in New York pointed out, that 
a square house is the convenient house to live in. But, as 
a matter of fact, it really does not matter tremendously 
whether we live in an absolutely rectangular room or not. 
I venture to say that nine out of ten of us would go into a 



room that was askew, and that was well furnished and con- 
veniently arranged, without ever having it borne in upon 
us that the angles were not right angles. We don't ap- 
preciate things of that kind, at least nobody does except 
the architect who works with the T square and drawing 
board. The ordinary person does not care anything about 
rectangles. They do not make life, and the room that is 
not rectangular may be just exactly as good a room to live 
in as any other. So that the rectangular lot is not an 
absolute sine qua non. 

On the other hand the lot that is slightly irregular in 
shape gives the architect all sorts of splendid opportunities 
for imagination. 

When the lots are laid out and considered in connection 
with the laying out of streets not necessarily rectangular 
and not necessarily diagonal and not necessarily curving, 
but perhaps a little of all, adapted to the conditions, the 
lots will be necessarily irregular; and there will be neces- 
sarily at certain junctions places where it is obvious that 
larger areas shall be set aside for parks or playgrounds or 
general purposes of pleasure, and those will be the distinc- 
tive characteristics in the plan. And lots that are facing 
on those public open spaces will be distinctive and will be 
different from the lots that are in the other positions and 
the ordinary streets. It suggests all the innumerable 
things that can be done in the gradual growth of the city 
plan. As you come out into the suburbs you have the 
opportunities for the garden, for the man or the woman 
who cares for flowers, or for the kitchen garden, if they 
care to grow vegetables, or for the playground, if they have 
a large family of children. It is the architect's work to see 
that each owner shall get all that is possible from his land. 

All these things add character and interest and distinc- 
tion as well to a place, and they all to my mind form a part 
of the common sense idea of city planning. 

Then comes the question of restrictions, and one is often 
led to question why it is that we insist on uniform restric- 



tions on our streets. You know perfectly well that if a 
single individual had a good sized block to develop, and he 
were going to build every house on that block, he would 
never for a moment dream of setting his houses all ten 
feet back from the street and having them all in a straight 
row. It would be perfectly absurd if he had a chance to 
do differently. He would set them backward and forward 
so that, instead of having four corners on his large square 
lot, he might have sixteen or more that would be corner 
houses ; and he would set his houses back and forward and 
give individuality and interest to every single house, and 
besides that to the whole block. 

So that this question of restrictions is one question which 
must be governed by common sense, and my own feeling is, 
if it were possible to put that kind of thing into the hands 
of one man who had the power and sense to set his restric- 
tions case by case to fit the individual conditions of the 
place in the city, that we would get infinitely better results. 
The trouble about our restrictions is that they are made 
in a broad, general way and then we find that they do 
not fit. 

We had a restriction in the city of Boston that there 
should not be a saloon within 200 feet of a schoolhouse 
on the same street. Why? Because the drunken people 
coming out from a saloon would shock the children — chil- 
dren who lived on the street most of their time and who 
went backward and forward to their homes — all on the 
supposition that they lived in the school the whole time of 
their lives. Of course they did nothing of the kind. More- 
over the restriction said " On the same street." The 
saloon might be around the corner 50 feet away instead of 
200 as long as it was around the corner and not on the 
same street. Just one of those foolish restrictions put on, 
with perhaps an idea behind it, and carried through with 
an " Hurrah, boys " as being a splendid thing for tem- 
perance and really having no sense behind it whatsoever. 
Once when I was managing the schools in the city of Bos- 



ton, and we wanted to open an extra door to a school that 
was on the corner, we found that if we did it we would put 
three saloons out of business and take their licenses away. 

Restrictions as to where you can locate a stable, another 
foolish sort of a thing, depend upon what kind of a stable 
it is and the way in which it is kept. London never thinks 
of things of that kind. Some of the very best districts of 
London have what they call their mews in behind, very 
much like our back alleys. They run between blocks, and 
on those back alleys or mews you will find private stables, 
public stables, locksmiths and plumbers and all sorts of 
people that you want every day and like to have near by. 
They do not hurt the property in the slightest. They help 
it, if they are properly managed. 

So the restriction question ought to be managed in the 
spirit of understanding and common sense, and we ought 
to be very, very careful as to how we put general and sweep- 
ing restrictions on property. 

Now the other point that I wanted to touch upon was 
the absolute necessity for continuity, a thing that is utterly 
disregarded. We never can count from administration to 
administration on any continuity of effort or thought. A 
thing is carefully planned by one body of men, and its suc- 
cessors very carefully go to work and see to what extent 
they can undo everything that has the horrid taint of the 
predecessor in office. That is a curse to our communities 
and it is a curse to this country. 

Four or five years ago the government at Washington 
undertook what was looked upon at that time as the most 
important architectural thing that had been undertaken 
in Washington since the building of the capitol. It was 
the building of three great governmental buildings that 
were intended to form an impressive and magnificent ar- 
chitectural group — the Department of Justice, of Labor 
and Commerce and of State. The Secretary of the Treas- 
ury immediately decided that it was a subject for a competi- 
tion. Without paying the slightest attention to precedent, 



without attempting to find out how such things were 
done, without consulting even with the trained force that 
he had at his own right hand, he determined immediately 
upon the character of the competition. And as it was a 
very important competition, instead of saying: "We will 
select only the very best men in the country to come into 
this competition," he said : " It is very important ; we must 
have a great many men in it." 

So he invited 60 men to compete, 20 each, for each 
building. That was the first mistake made, simply because 
he did n't care to find out what was the best way to do, 
and the competition was held. Those three buildings were 
all to be contiguous. It was essential that they should be 
three buildings in one, that is, should form a group. But 
there were three separate sets of competitions. Of course 
it happened that in all the great centers three architects 
would find that they had been invited on each one of the 
three groups. Those men we will say, being friends, got 
together and said : " We are not competing with each 
other. Let us work together and see that our three plans 
that go in are at least harmonious." 

When the Secretary of the Treasury heard of this, he 
said : " We must stop this thing. This is outrageous. We 
must arrange the juries so that no consideration whatso- 
ever shall be given to the fact that three of the plans of 
the three different buildings may possibly harmonize. We 
will have three independent juries"; and the three inde- 
pendent juries were instructed with the utmost care that 
they must have no communication with each other while 
they were in Washington. They must not talk to each 
other or see each other or say anything whatsoever about 
the plans that they had seen, lest perchance they should 
select designs that harmonized. 

The competition was awarded for those three great 
buildings, and the government pledged itself, so far as it 
could, that the three men who had honestly won that com- 
petition, and who had been told in the program that the 



winners would be the architects, should be so appointed to 
carry out the work. That was the only remuneration they 
received ; there was no money payment to any of the com- 
petitors. The Secretary of the Treasury drew up and 
signed the strongest contract he could with those com- 
petitors, but before he could carry out anything he went 
out of office, and a new manager came in who knew not 
Joseph, and he had entirely different ideas as to the way 
in which government architecture should be run. His feel- 
ing was that architects were a perfectly unnecessary evil. 
We all know they are a necessary evil, but he felt that they 
were an entirely unnecessary evil and the Department could 
run this thing themselves perfectly well. He introduced a 
bill in Congress last winter which distinctly gave the per- 
mission to have a competition all over again for the build- 
ing of the Department of Justice. Now a competition al- 
ready had been held by the government, an award by 
the government and a contract made by the government. 
He said, and I dare say quite rightly, the government has 
no legal authority to promise that the winner would do 
that building, because Congress had not yet made an ap- 
propriation for the building, and therefore it could not 
be agreed with the man who won that competition that 
he should carry it out. When the matter came up in 
the Senate, it was defeated, and it was defeated simply 
and solely on the ground of its being an act of ill faith on 
the part of the government — particularly appropriate 
for the Department of Justice. 

Now that lack of continuity is at the root of nearly all 
of the trouble that we have in the building of our towns. 
It is the one thing that makes it difficult for us to carry 
out any scheme. The moment that it is laid out, and 
seems in a fair way to get established, some other author- 
ity steps in and then you have all your work to do over 
again. Even in the city of Washington, with that splendid 
plan, it has been nothing but fight, fight, fight from start 
up to now so that it shall not be upset; not that it shall 



be carried out absolutely as it was laid out, but that it shall 
not be absolutely disregarded and something built that is 
going permanently to injure it. And continuity is the 
thing that we must fight for if we are going to get any 
practical results out of our city planning. 

We have talked and talked about city planning for years, 
and we have come to a point where I do believe we are within 
reasonable sight of actual accomplishment. And if that 
is so, I believe in my heart that we have got to make some 
fundamental change that shall insure continuity in the 
work that we undertake. I feel quite confident with the 
body of men and women here tonight, and what they rep- 
resent throughout the country, that this organization will 
be able to accomplish it. 



Edward H. Bennett 
Consultant in City Planning, Chicago 

Although I think I agree in the main with what has 
been said, on the one hand, with regard to the engineering 
necessities involved in city planning and, on the other, 
of the necessity for common sense controlling the study 
of the same subject, it is fair to say that I believe that 
these considerations affect the program of our needs with 
regard to a city plan; but into this question there enters 
another very important consideration, and that is the 
question of composition or design of a city plan, the 
interpretation of these needs and the welding together 
in a comprehensive manner of all the factors involved, so 
that a plan may be a vital living entity. 

The plan of the city of Paris, if placed on the screen 
tonight beside the plan of any of the large cities of this 
country today, would indicate exactly what I mean. 
There is realized therein such a general relation in the 
parts of the city that its expression becomes a composi- 
tion. There are dominant notes in this composition. 
The Place de la Concorde takes its place virtually in the 
center of the composition; it could hardly be anywhere 
else. The Place de PEtoile is the dominant note at the 
west end balanced by the Place de la Nation at the other 
end. The practical requirements are all met, but there 
is that evidence of actual sense of design in the plan that 
is perhaps instinctive in the Latin race. 

My address will be illustrated by lantern slides. I had 
hoped to use large diagrams, but I find that they will not 



be visible and must beg the indulgence of the audience in 
an effort to coordinate my notes with the slides. 

My subject is the city plan of Detroit. It will be well, 
however, to say a little on the subject of the original plan 
of Detroit known as the Governor and Judges Plan of 
1805. This first slide has been made from the original 
document in the archives at Washington. It consists of 
a series of compositions of streets radiating from various 
centers placed at no great distance one from the other. 
I understand from Mr. Moore that it was the intention to 
duplicate this system almost indefinitely as the city of 
Detroit developed. The Governor and Judges Plan, 
however, commonly so called, is that which was published 
in 1831. It retains a couple of the original centers, 
but is developed other than originally intended. It may 
be said to be an admirable composition of city streets 
in itself; it is decorative in quality; its scope, however, is 
limited. Many of its lines today have been stamped out, 
and it is unfortunate that it was not retained in its en- 
tirety and developed with understanding of the growing 
needs of the community. Such a development was essen- 
tial, as even this plan of 1831 provides for only a very 
limited extension and with its composition of many 
radials converging from the river front at the Circus is 
fundamentally wrong, unless complemented by even more 
radials from the same point or thereabouts toward the 

It had been better if the plan had been turned about, 
allowing the main arteries to fan outward. Even so good 
avenues of communication with the river front should have 
been maintained. The plan of 1853 indicates the in- 
corporation in the street plan of the three great radials 
Michigan, Grand River, Gratiot and the extension of 
Woodward, Fort and Jefferson, originally highways and 
transportation routes. 

The great radials are, however, poorly connected with 
the center of the city, and as they lie are insufficient for the 



general circulation and expansion of the city. One great 
fault of the plan of 1831 was its lack of provision for exten- 
sion. Another was that of the lack of recognition of the 
necessity of dominant direction in its main streets. Fore- 
knowledge alone of the necessities of a modern city would 
have prevented mistakes, and the growth of Detroit has 
been of such a rapid nature that such foreknowledge was 
hardly to be expected. 

Again, centers of distribution of freight and their re- 
lation to the business district could hardly be forecast, 
also centers of circulation and their connections. Such 
matters, however, must be fully considered in a modern 
city plan. 

As a result the nucleus of congestion, through which 
traffic passes with difficulty, so common in the average 
modern city, has been allowed to grow in Detroit. No 
provision lias been made with the definite purpose of 
passing traffic around this center. Fortunately, how- 
ever, the center was located at some distance back from the 
water front, and thus there is left a means for creating a 
reasonable circulation around it and of emphasizing and 
developing a general dominant direction of business streets 
in the system. This direction is east and west, or west- 
east, paralleling for a way at least the Detroit River and 
fanning out on each side of the center. 

In spite of the criticisms that may be made of this plan, 
one cannot look without distress on its mutilation and on 
the waste of opportunities afforded by it for more com- 
prehensive treatment, and also for the waste of oppor- 
tunity in the effects offered by its streets for street archi- 
tecture of an exceptional character. It is true that the 
question here enters of control with regard to the design 
of the architecture. 

Economics not only can be disregarded in this matter, 
but must control. Nevertheless it is not impossible that 
the two should go hand in hand. The Campus Martius 
is a striking example of a wasted opportunity. The City 



Hall and County Building bear no relation one to the 
other, and in spite of the unusual opportunities offered 
by the broad spaces, or perhaps more especially by reason 
of these broad spaces so fully revealing the irregular con- 
ditions, chaos reigns. The lines of the Campus which 
might lead to the County Building not only lead no- 
where, but in themselves are a jumble of irregular archi- 
tectural outlines. The City Hall, a low building of 
formal character, although reasonably well placed on the 
Campus, no longer controls it; its boundaries on the con- 
trary extend to the great facades of the tall buildings 
growing up around it, again without regularity or general 

Again, the Grand Circle or Circus presents a superb 
opportunity, and until the tall buildings intruded on its 
outline presented an appearance of real beauty. The 
architecture, for the most part of moderate height and 
simple outline, was dominated by the outlines of the mag- 
nificent trees on the Circus. 

While it is true that the lower buildings around such a 
Plaza are more beautiful, the exclusion of the tall build- 
ings from the Circus is not possible under economic con- 
ditions at least ; however, a cornice height should be estab- 
lished and certain points, such as those bordering Wood- 
ward Avenue, should be emphasized as dominants in the 
general composition of the Plaza. So much could be 
brought about by control without any sacrifice on the part 
of business, or perhaps it might be achieved by the prop- 
erty owners themselves once the opportunity has been real- 
ized of massing the general effects of the individual 

The plan of Detroit was prepared under the auspices of 
the City Plan and Improvement Commission in 1912 and is 
a general plan. It might almost be called a preliminary 
plan and has not been studied in detail nor have the draw- 
ings necessary to the explanation or illustration of the 
project been made. The plan is what might be called 



rough hewn and should in my judgment receive the neces- 
sary polishing. 

The result of further study would be largely that of 
the development of details, but it is possible that it might 
involve a radical change of even an important element. 

From early days the physical characteristics of Detroit 
have been shaped by its transportation facilities. The 
center of the city, which occupies today practically the 
same place that it occupied a hundred years ago, lies at the 
focus of the main street arteries. These street arteries 
have grown out of the old highways and overland trans- 
portation routes. At first close to the Detroit River was 
the main continental east and west traffic route; it was 
later reenforced in its position by the railroads coming 
in from the east and west along the river bank. At one 
time these roads coming in to the Campus Martius 
threatened, had they been perpetuated, either to force the 
business center into some other location or else to create 
a throttling condition on the business heart. One of these 
roads came down Michigan Street and the other down 
Gratiot Avenue to the Campus Martius. Had they stayed 
there they would have changed completely the physical 
aspect of Detroit. 

In 1853 this business center extended along Woodward 
Avenue and south from Jefferson Avenue and a short dis- 
tance eastward on this street. 

In 1855 the business district centered around the Cam- 
pus Martius, extending a short way up Woodward Ave- 
nue as far as the circle, a considerable distance out along 
Michigan Avenue, a short distance along Grand River, 
Gratiot and Jefferson. 

In 1905 the city had grown uniformly in every direction. 
On the west the limits were Artillery Avenue, on the north 
Euclid and on the east Van Dyke Avenue. The business 
center had become more intense around the Campus Mar- 
tius. Industries were beginning to start along the rail- 
roads near the center, along the belt line in the northern 



part of the city, along the shore east of the city and along 
the railroads which run to the west. Business extended 
in a continuous line along Michigan, Grand River and 
Gratiot, but only a short distance along Woodward. 

It is curious to note the beginning about this time of 
the deterioration of Woodward Avenue property for resi- 
dential purposes. It is also interesting to note that in- 
dustry is beginning at this period to attack the east side 
of the business district in the neighborhood of the Court 

In 1911 there appears the first of the heavy industry 
along the river bank west of the city, in the neighborhood 
of the River Rouge. The belt line has become more or 
less lined with industry and the district lying away to the 
east of the city and of Belle Isle on the Detroit Terminal 
Railroad has been attacked by industry^ and it should be 
noted here that Detroit has reached a point where the use 
of its territory from now on will be determined by the 
presence or absence of a railroad in a given locality. 

In general the street system of Detroit may be called 
rectangular, surrounding the area covered in the 1831 
plan, which had its inspiration in the plan of Washington 
by L'Enfant and which covers only the present business 
area; the further planning of the street system has been 
governed by the direction of the old property lines dating 
back to the French occupation of Canada. 

There are six main arteries which radiate from this 
central section. The streets which run at right angles to 
the river and parallel to what may be considered the 
strongest of these radials, Woodward Avenue, are, except 
for the portions where they are interrupted by railroad 
properties, in general good and ample in number, although 
rather scanty in width. They are in every case laid out at 
right angles to the river parallel to the old French land 
lines. The streets which intersect these at right angles 
have no continuity, no order and give the basis for strong 
criticism of the Detroit street system, for without these 



the rest of the system, no matter how well designed, loses 
tremendously in strength. It might be noted here that no 
effort is being made at the present time to control the 
platting of the new subdivisions which from time to time 
are added to the city. 

The plan of Detroit recognizes the facts already brought 
out and aims (a) to develop the radial system outward, 
(6) to improve the communication with the river front 
and (c) to provide good connections between the central 
city and these main thoroughfares both radial and rec- 
tangular, also in so far as possible with the minor streets. 
Many alternatives were tried out, but the recommendation 
was to provide a circuit of the most economic nature on 
the fringe of the central district and the outlying 

It is a fact shown by the recorded plans that the mass of 
business has been throttled as to general expansion and it 
has run out along the radials in an excessive degree. It 
is believed that the street changes proposed would render 
more flexible the entire downtown circulation and allow 
free expansion of business. The plan strongly supple- 
ments Woodward Avenue with laterals. 

Improved east and west main arteries are also recom- 
mended, connections between points of vital interest and 
further circuits to care for circulation at a future date. 

The study is carried out into the surrounding territory 
and a complete plan of main arteries laid down over an 
area suitable for the accommodation of a large population. 
The plan includes a study of transportation, parks and 
playgrounds and a special development of the Detroit 
River front. 

The street system of Detroit has been studied in its re- 
lation to accessibility from the business district to the 
outlying sections, from the point of view of direct east 
and west crosstown movement from the southwest to north- 
east and from the northwest to southeast. It has been 
studied from the point of view of the loosening up of the 



traffic congestion in the central district and for the passing 
around the central district of as much travel as possible, 
both at the present time and in the future. 

With respect to accessibility into the central area from 
all parts of the city the following statements may be 

1. That Woodward Avenue and Gratiot Avenue are 
carrying far too much travel for their size. Each of them 
requires relieving arteries. 

2. That the means of access to the center of the city are 
freer than is the movement in the center itself, so that the 
first consideration should be the relief of the downtown 

3. That Jefferson Avenue together with Fort Street 
will undoubtedly become, as time goes on, very heavily 
traveled streets. 

4. That the presence of railroads to the west of the city 
has had the effect of shutting out proper access to Mich- 
igan Avenue and it is fortunate that Ferndale and Dykes 
avenues and Parker Street form what is practically a 
diagonal artery, substituting and aiding Michigan Avenue. 

It should also be noted here that owing to lack of proper 
later development the original plan in the center of the 
city forms an obstacle to any movement across the city 
for a strip along the river, varying in width from one- 
fourth to one-half mile. This is emphasized by the pres- 
ence on the east of a cemetery and on the west by the 
presence of railroads. It is impossible for a vehicle to 
pass directly across town in the area which lies between 
High Street and Fort Street without winding through the 
crowded and congested streets of the central business 

In the study of the diagonal movements across town it 
was found that in the main there were no ways of travers- 
ing the city in these directions except those which led 
through the central district. In the sections a compara- 
tively short distance from the center the paving is poor 



and the streets consequently little used. Many alternative 
plans were worked out relieving each of these bad condi- 
tions referred to above. 

Downtown Street Traffic 

It is impossible without further appropriation to go 
fully into the details of the downtown street congestion. 
From such information as it has been possible to gather 
and from figures taken and observations made it is evi- 
dent that there are few cities in the country which at rush 
periods of the day have more intense and concentrated 
street traffic than has Detroit. This arises from the fol- 
lowing causes: 

1. The nature of the street system in and around the 
business district. 

2. The concentration by means of diagonal arteries at 
practically one point of all street traffic coming to and 
leaving the business center. 

3. The dead ending of the streets by the river. 

4. The narrowness of the streets in the business center. 

5. The improper handling of street cars. This arises 
from the lack of proper routing of cars. 

A glance at the tables of figures giving the number of 
cars operating on the different lines and the number of 
cars passing certain points in the downtown district in the 
rush hours instantly shows that it is practically impossible 
for either the railroad company or the police authorities 
to handle more cars on the streets. It is not a question 
of more cars, it is a question of the capacity of the streets 
to handle them. For example, at the present time during 
the rush hours certain streets intersecting Woodward Ave- 
nue in the downtown sections are closed to other kinds of 
traffic and special routing of vehicular traffic takes place. 

It is strongly recommended that a thorough study be 
given by a responsible commission to the question of this 
downtown street traffic. The study of these traffic condi- 



tions in Detroit would certainly result in reducing the cost 
of traffic control both at this point and at others. It will 
require the cooperation of the street railway companies, 
of the police and other city officials. This would certainly 
be a relief at other points in the city. 

Street Cars 

The following general criticism can be made of the 
operation of street cars in Detroit: 

1. The dead ending of the Woodward Avenue street cars 
near the Michigan Central Station. 

2. The lack of through east and west lines in the section 
of the city north of High Street. At present it is easier 
in a great many cases for people who want to get from 
one side of the city to the other across town to come down 
into the center of the city by means of diagonals and go 
out, thus proceeding by means of other diagonal lines to 
some point near their destination. If crosstown lines were 
put in, it would have the effect, in addition to the saving 
of time to many travellers, of giving a certain amount of 
relief to traffic in the downtown district. 

3. North and south car lines in the outlying sections 
are very inadequate, and in some cases it is necessary for 
people to make detours in order to accomplish a compara- 
tively short journey. 

4. There is possibly no city in the country which can 
show an example of such intolerable downtown street car 
congestion during the rush hours as Detroit. Besides the 
fact that the cars themselves are jammed away beyond 
their capacity there is the fact that the streets are so filled 
with street cars that it would be impossible to put any 
more cars on the tracks, and even the cars that are there 
now require special track regulation during the rush hours. 
To relieve the congestion in the cars themselves the only 
solution would seem to lie in the use of more cars. This is 
impossible since they could not be handled in the streets. 



The only alternative is to place most if not all cars in a 
subway in the central district. 

The above notes on the plan are limited to the subject 
of the street system; for consideration of the other im- 
portant subjects treated, attention is called to the plans 

Proposed Playground System. — This diagram shows a 
scheme for the arrangement of the necessary playground 
sites, together with additional playgrounds in connection 
with the schools. This study is based on the study of 
the necessities of the future population and the experience 
of the cities in this country that are the most advanced in 
the study of the needs of playground development in 
metropolitan centers, including that of New York, Chi- 
cago and Kansas City. 

Diagram of the River Front. — This diagram is a gen- 
eral indication of suggested development for the river 
front of the city of Detroit. It does not contemplate in- 
terfering with any of the business activities of this front, 
but indicates a method by which these interests may be 
benefited whilst giving the public greater access to the 
shores without conflicting with these interests. It is pro- 
posed that there shall be a river road running along the 
front wherever possible, that this roadway shall be, when 
within the center of the city, at an elevation above the 
present quay and that it be connected with the main north 
and south thoroughfares indicated on the plan. 

Special attention is called, first, to the suggestion for 
a complete system of dock development in the vicinity of 
the mouth of the River Rouge, which system should be 
made accessible to all the railroads by means of a belt line, 
and, secondly, to the proposed treatment for the foot of 
Woodward Avenue and adjacent streets. It is thought 
that this scheme or a modification of it may be carried 
out in cooperation with the steamboat companies owning 
dock rights along the shore. This is the gateway from 
the river to the heart of the city and no efforts should 



be spared to make it both convenient and attractive. 
Thirdly, the development of the shore north of Belle Isle 
Bridge. Here it is proposed to develop a series of lagoons 
inclosed by islands in the river similar to that proposed 
for the south shore of Chicago. This development may 
be carried out without great expense. 

This river front treatment, however, represents only a 
part of the Detroit River, for which I have suggested a 
general treatment from one end to the other on both sides 
of the river. Its complete development will require the 
cooperation of the Canadian cities bordering the river and 
perhaps that of the government. But the river is one of 
such great beauty and is such an asset to the population 
lining its shores that no effort should be spared to develop- 
ing it to its maximum utility and in its finest possible 

There are also other great considerations which it has 
not been possible to touch ; of these the greatest is perhaps 
the provision for future expansion of the city in the out- 
lying districts. 

These notes are necessarily a very limited explanation 
of the plan of Detroit, involving as it does almost endless 
consideration of detail. I hope, however, what I have said 
has given a general idea of the problems involved and 
their proposed treatment. 



Flavel Shurtleff, Esq. 
Secretary of the Conference, Boston 

This six years' narrative of city planning in the United 
States starts with the year 1909, because it is the secre- 
tary's report to the members of the National Conference 
on City Planning, which held its first meeting in Washing- 
ton in May, 1909, and it is in part a record of the influence 
of that conference and subsequent conferences on the city 
planning movement. Entirely aside from this special rea- 
son, from 1909 city planning events came with such rapid- 
ity that a general movement " to lay out new cities or 
extend old ones to the best advantage of their population 
as regards economy, health and beauty " may be said to 
date from that year, and it is interesting also that in this 
year the British Parliament passed the Town Planning 
Act, which started a new era in town planning in Great 

The considerable body of town planning literature before 
1909 gives evidence of much interest in the subject, but the 
dominant note of this writing in the twenty-year period just 
before the calling of the First Conference on City Planning 
in the United States is esthetic. It reflects the particular 
phase of planning activity which created the great munici- 
pal park systems beginning with Central Park in New 
York in 1850, and marked most notably by the metropolis 
tan park system of Boston with its ten thousand acres, and 
the Chicago and Kansas City park system. Much of the 
inspiration for the activity of this period came from the 
World's Fair of 1909 and the report to Congress in 1902 



of the Commission of Experts appointed to draw up a plan 
for the development of Washington. The influence of the 
Washington report can be traced directly in the crop of 
city planning reports that came out in the next few years, 
in all of which the grouping of public buildings in civic 
centers and the establishment of park systems received 
most consideration. 

Economic and Social Aspects 

This esthetic note is almost absent in the papers and dis- 
cussions of the First Conference on City Planning. It is 
apparent from the most casual reading of the report of the 
proceedings that the stress is put on planning as an eco- 
nomic remedy for municipal waste and for social misery. 
The call for the conference came from the New York Com- 
mittee on Congestion of Population, a group of energetic 
and efficient social reformers much interested in improving 
housing conditions. A composite city planning program 
worked out of the papers delivered would read something 
like this: 

1. A city plan should be preceded by a survey of the 
conditions in each city, and particularly the conditions of 
working and living. 

2. A city plan should establish: (a) an adequate and 
differentiated system of streets; (&) a properly coordi- 
nated transportation system; (c) zones for industries and 
zones for residences, with healthful and attractive condi- 
tions in each; (d) ample recreational facilities. 

It is very significant that the two planning reports which 
came out in the same year of this conference, the Chicago 
and Boston reports, which have been most quoted both here 
and abroad, gave a great deal of attention to the economic 
aspects of city planning. The Boston report, which out- 
lines a plan for the improvement of the entire metropolitan 
district, contains the first comprehensive study of railroads, 



terminals and docks and their relation to the city plan, 
and these subjects, together with a very thorough study of 
the street system of the district, occupy two hundred of 
the three hundred pages of the report. The report on the 
study for a civic center is contained in fifteen pages. 

The same emphasis on the economic and social side of 
city planning is kept in the Second Conference, which met 
in Rochester in 1910, and has been so marked in all subse- 
quent conferences that this year the executive committee 
thought the criticism well founded that the esthetic side had 
been neglected and arranged a session on civic design. 


Referring again to the First Conference, one is struck 
with the remarkable accuracy with which the future of 
city planning was forecasted. Hardly a phase of the recent 
city planning activity but was discussed at Washington 
in 1909. Then there was but one city planning commission 
in the United States, at Hartford, Conn., organized the 
year before, but Mr. Frederick L. Ford, a member of the 
commission, speaking on " The Scope of City Planning in 
the United States," said : " The work of city planning will 
be undertaken by official commissions with authority to em- 
ploy expert advice and funds to make investigations and 
reports." And Mr. John Quincy Adams went further 
and said : " A permanent city plan commission, serving 
without pay and appointed in a way to remove the com- 
mission from political influence, should have complete con- 
trol of the future development of the city and should be 
able to enforce its decisions." 

Plan Commissions 

City planning legislation has borne out to the full this 
prophecy and these recommendations. In 1909 came the 
Wisconsin act and the Chicago ordinance, and in the next 
year Detroit by ordinance and Baltimore by legislative act 



created plan commissions with power to employ experts 
and make reports, but as yet the plan commission had no 
real control over the city's future development. 

In 1911 an act of New Jersey authorized an additional 
executive department, to be known as the department of 
city planning, for cities of the first class, and Pennsylvania 
did the same for cities of the second class. The Pennsyl- 
vania act begins to approach the goal suggested by Mr. 
Adams at the Washington conference: 

Sec. 2. The clerks of councils shall, upon introduction, 
furnish to the City Planning Commission, for its considera- 
tion, a copy of all ordinances and bills relating to the loca- 
tion of any 'public building of the city, and to the location, 
extension, widening, enlargement, ornamentation and park- 
ing of any street, boulevard, parkway, park, playground 
or other public grounds, and to the vacation of any street, 
or other alteration of the city plan of streets and highways, 
and to the location of any bridge, tunnel or subway, or of 
any surface, underground or elevated railway. 

Sec. 5. All plans, plots or replots of lands laid out in 
building lots, and the streets, alleys or other portions of 
the same intended to be dedicated to public use, or for the 
use of purchasers or owners of lots fronting thereon or ad- 
jacent thereto, and located within the city limits, shall be 
submitted to the City Planning Commission and approved 
by it before it shall be recorded. And it shall be unlawful 
to receive or record such plan in any public office unless the 
same shall bear thereon, by endorsement or otherwise, the 
approval of the City Planning Commission. . . . 

In 1913 a plan commission act for New York and one 
for third class cities in Pennsylvania were passed and the 
first metropolitan plan commission was created under Penn- 
sylvania legislation authorizing such a commission for the 
district of Philadelphia. In the same year Massachusetts 
legislation made boards mandatory in all cities and towns 
over ten thousand, legislation which was influenced without 



doubt by the holding of the Fourth Conference on City 
Planning at Boston in 1912. Finally, in 1914, came the 
legislation which fully realizes the recommendations of the 
Washington conference in giving the plan commission power 
to enforce its decision. It is found in this language of the 
Cleveland ordinance: 

Sec. 4. Public Works. Hereafter no public building, 
harbor, bridge, viaduct, street fixture or other structure 
and appurtenance shall be located, constructed, erected, 
removed, relocated or altered until and unless such plan, 
design or location shall have been submitted to and ap- 
proved by the Commission; and no such work when com- 
pleted shall be accepted by the City until and unless it 
shall have been approved by the Commission as provided 
in Section 77 of the City Charter. 

Thus the seed sown in 1909 at the Washington confer- 
ence has produced in less than six years state legislation 
authorizing plan commissions in Connecticut, Maryland, 
Wisconsin, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Penn- 
sylvania, Ohio, Nebraska and California, and under these 
acts or under ordinances about one hundred plan commis- 
sions have been established. 


At the First Conference, speaking on the subject of a 
national constructive program for city planning, Mr. Henry 
Morgenthau, now Ambassador to Turkey, said : " We can 
make city plans establishing factory zones and residence 
zones." Before 1909, cities doubtless could, under the 
police power, segregate offensive occupations, but no at- 
tempt to establish industrial and residence districts had 
come to general notice. Los Angeles, in 1909, by ordinance 
created industrial and residential districts, and the consti- 
tutionality of this ordinance was sanctioned by the supreme 
court of California in three well considered cases. At the 



City Planning Conference at Boston in 1912, zoning or dis- 
tricting was made the subject of a very exhaustive paper 
and the applicability of German methods to American con- 
ditions was fully discussed; legislation on the subject came 
the next year and certain cities in Wisconsin, Minnesota 
and New York were given power to set aside districts from 
which industrial occupation could be excluded. Syracuse, 
Utica and possibly other cities in New York took advan- 
tage of the New York act, which was, however, repealed 
in the spring of this year. The other acts, we believe, are 
still operative. 

Excess Taking of Land 

Long before 1909 it was well recognized that the chief 
obstacle to accomplishment in city planning was the high 
cost of the acquisition of land by the municipality. Most 
cities were pretty heavily burdened financially by the neces- 
sity of providing for current expenses, and serious outlay 
for very necessary improvements in the street system could 
usually be postponed by the argument that the extra finan- 
cial burden would be too heavy. Some cities, particularly 
in the Middle West, had distributed the cost of the ac- 
quisition of land for park systems by assessing the cost of 
them as a special assessment on benefited lands. 

Searching for a way out of this difficulty, the legislature 
of Massachusetts in 1903 appointed a commission to inves- 
tigate the European methods of acquiring land, and partic- 
ularly the taking by purchase or condemnation of more 
land than was actually necessary for the physical improve- 
ment, with the right to resell the excess. This commission 
reported a bill, which became law in 1904, known as the 
Remnant Act, in which the principle of excess taking was 
first incorporated. The same principle appears in Ohio 
legislation for 1904, in a Virginia act in 1906, in Connecti- 
cut in 1907, Pennsylvania in 1907 and Maryland in 1908. 

At the First Planning Conference the subject of excess 



condemnation was very thoroughly discussed in a brief on 
its constitutionality by Andrew Wright Crawford, Esq., 
then assistant city solicitor of Philadelphia. The advan- 
tage of excess condemnation in giving a municipality physi- 
cal control over the land adjoining either a highway or a 
park improvement was then generally admitted, but its 
financial expediency and its doubtful constitutionality have 
made municipalities very timid in its use. The constitu- 
tional difficulty was remedied, at least in part, by an amend- 
ment to the state constitution of Massachusetts in 1911, 
in Wisconsin and Ohio in 1912 and in New York in 1913, 
but up to the present year cities were so much in doubt as 
to where they would come out financially by experimenting 
with excess condemnation that there is no instance of its 
use that has come to the writer's knowledge. The city of 
Philadelphia purchased in excess of need under the act of 
1907, but unfortunately there was no constitutional amend- 
ment in Pennsylvania, and the supreme court found the 
act of 1907 unconstitutional. The city of New York has 
within a few weeks perfected the machinery for using the 
excess condemnation law, and we should expect a test of 
the principle within the next year or two. 


At the First Conference the suggestion was well received 
that a city planning exhibit would be the most effective 
method of stimulating public interest. There had been 
some municipal exhibits in which city planning had been 
featured, but the first exhibit of city planning which could be 
described as at all comprehensive was that in Philadelphia at 
the time of the Third Conference on City Planning in 1911. 
The value of this kind of publicity was so apparent that 
New York City organized an exhibit in 1913, much of the 
material of which has been used in the excellent traveling ex- 
hibit of the American City Bureau, which has been shown in 
many American cities and has j ourneyed as far as Santiago. 



Harvard College in 1909 recognized that if the general 
public needed schooling in city planning, so did the city 
planners, and established the first systematic instruction 
in city planning in connection with its graduate school work 
in landscape architecture. Courses have since been estab- 
lished in other universities, notably in Columbia and the 
University of Illinois. The Chicago Plan Commission in 
1912 conceived the idea of grounding boys and girls in city 
planning by the introduction of a textbook on the Chicago 
plan in the common schools. 


There is left to consider the actual physical achievements 
which can be traced to planning principles or more directly 
to the recent city planning propaganda. 

No complete list is attempted of the fine achievements of 
cities which, like Cleveland, New York and San Francisco, 
and among the smaller cities Des Moines, and Spring- 
field, Mass., have constructed monumental public buildings 
as a part of a civic group. Except as the grouping of 
buildings makes for convenience, these achievements can 
be cited chiefly as the result of the esthetic emphasis on 
city planning which antedates our narrative. 

The radical changes in long established street systems of 
our largest cities, illustrated by the extension of Seventh 
Avenue in New York, the widening of Pleasant and Avery 
streets in Boston, the widening of Twelfth Street in Chi- 
cago, the cutting of diagonals through the rectangular 
streets of Philadelphia and Newark, have all come in the 
last five years. And equally striking are the great improve- 
ments in rail transportation and the establishment of new 
railroad terminals in New York, Kansas City, Chicago and 
Detroit in this same period. 

These are some of the answers to the question at the 
Washington conference, How can the street and transpor- 
tation system be made to produce a more convenient city? 



But they are rather the spectacular results* of the city plan- 
ning movement and, apart from making their localities more 
convenient places to work in, their value is to show the fear- 
ful cost of replanting and the necessity of forecasting a 
city's future needs. 

The less striking but more far-reaching result of recent 
planning activity, and certainly the most direct contribu- 
tion of the conferences on city planning, is the acceptance 
in cities big and small of the planning principle, the long 
look ahead in the lay out of street systems, the location of 
public buildings, the establishment of parks and play- 
grounds, the construction of the street surface, and in all 
the other physical elements that produce the city. 

The conception of the city as a unit, a strongly knit 
federation of neighborhoods, is one that the Conference on 
City Planning did not originate, but one that it has taken 
every opportunity to make a part of city administration. 
Just as the inspiration for the esthetic in city planning 
came from the World's Fair and the Washington report, 
so the precedent for orderly city extension is found in long 
established municipal agencies which have extended the 
official street plan far in advance of private development 
and have insisted, so far as legally possible, on the adher- 
ence to this established plan by private developers. This 
practice dates from the act of the Colonial Assembly in 
Pennsylvania in 1720 which authorized " surveyors and 
regulators to establish streets and building lines in Phila- 
delphia " and in the efficient administration of this and suc- 
ceeding acts by the present Philadelphia Bureau of Sur- 
veys. It is found again in the Charter of 1892 for Greater 
New York, which created a bureau charged with the com- 
pletion of the plan of the entire city, at least in regard to 
the streets and parks, in the Boston Board of Survey Act 
of 1891, in the Baltimore Topographical Bureau ordinance 
of 1893, and the same principle is incorporated in all the 
legislation creating city plan commissions. 



John Nolen 

Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects 
Cambridge, Mass. 

Only a brief word of explanation is necessary with re- 
gard to the subject for the sessions this morning and this 
afternoon on land subdivision. At the conclusion of the 
Conference in Toronto last year the executive committee 
decided that this year only a few subjects would be taken 
up, practically only two or three, that more attention 
would be given to each one and that more time especially 
would be allowed for the informal discussion of the sub- 
jects selected; the formal papers being brief, but based 
upon a fairly careful investigation of the subject carried 
on by a special committee during the year. Furthermore, 
the idea was that these subjects would be studied not for 
a single year, but for a number of years, and that we 
should start out by recognizing that we were attacking a 
rather big job and that we could only hope, with busy men 
on the committee, to make progress during the year and 
not reach a definite conclusion. 

With regard to this particular subject, the best methods 
of land subdivision, the instructions to the committee as 
stated in the final circular sent out are broadly to gather 
and digest any information likely to be of practical assist- 
ance to those responsible for maintaining and improving 
the quality of land subdivision plans. But the committee 
decided to concentrate its efforts in the beginning upon the 
study of the most fundamental question in its opinion of 
the whole subject; namely, What are the best standard lot 
dimensions to adopt under various typical conditions com- 






SCALC 3<y*r 



monly found in America? And the method of procedure 
was to gather the data or information with regard to the 
land subdivision work which had actually been done, his- 
torically, we might say, in the United States, to get the 
facts of these land subdivisions. And in order that the 
information or conclusions might be as convincing as pos- 
sible and that the elements of chance in locality should be 
eliminated, a variety of cities was selected representing 
large cities and small cities, old cities and relatively new 
cities, cities in different sections of the country having 
grown up under different controlling conditions and for 
somewhat different purposes, and cities with different types 
of topography. 

The data which Mr. Goodrich is going to present for 
the committee includes fairly definite returns from 16 of 
these cities, in which local committees cooperating with the 
general committee have made careful, valuable and pains- 
taking studies. The results which the committee sought 
were to be summarized under three general heads : the phys- 
ical results, the social results, or sociological results per- 
haps I should say, and the financial results. 

It might be added, furthermore, that the committee was 
of the opinion that in taking up this problem it was getting 
at the most important single topic in city planning; im- 
portant, first, because it is absolutely fundamental in city 
planning and, secondly, because it is the active phase of 
city planning which goes steadily on. 

I think it was John Burns in one of the London meetings 
who said that in England every 15 years, in other words 
in less than a generation, 500,000 acres of agricultural 
land were being subdivided for the purpose of industry and 
residence, and the way in which these 500,000 acres were 
subdivided and developed would become one of the con- 
trolling factors of the civilization which occupied and used 
them. The figures for the United States would be still 

Mr. Goodrich has given a great deal of time to sum- 



marizing the returns which have come in, many of them 
rather late, from the various local committees. It is his 
opinion and the opinion of the committee that the material 
in this shape can be much better appreciated in the printed 
proceedings of the conference and that the presentation 
by him now of the results, with Mr. Arthur A. Shurtleff's 
assistance at the blackboard, and the devotion of the rest 
of the time to discussion will be of very much more value 
to the members of the conference than attempting to read 
in detail this rather vast amount of local statistical ma- 
terial. Mr. Goodrich has furthermore selected what 
seemed to him the three essential topics; namely, the size 
of the lots, especially with regard to depth, alleys and re- 
strictions, as the subjects to concentrate attention upon. 
Mr. Goodrich will now be good enough to present in- 
formally the report of the committee. 


Presented by E. P. Goodrich 

Consulting Engineer, Borough of Manhattan 

Lots are to be considered in their availability for resi- 
dences primarily. Practically all of the plats which are 
now being made by real estate owners are for residence 
purposes. Naturally that is their primary ideal. It is 
also the idea of the person who makes the first purchase 
that he is buying a home or a place for a home in the ma- 
jority of cases. 

Evidences, however, exist in every city of the United 
States that the plats which were originally designed for 
residences are being converted into commercial use (or in- 
dustrial use occasionally), more largely into stores, some- 
times into factories — tenant factories ; and sometimes 
they are being wiped out and large mercantile districts are 
being constructed. 

The city planner, therefore, either in the form of the ex- 
pert or the city planning commission, must constantly keep 
in mind this possibility of conversion and must see that 
the real estate developer when he lays out his original plat 
does not so arrange it as to make it practically impossible 
of conversion to other use, except under special conditions, 
such as will be discussed a little bit later and such as might 
arise should the zoning idea come into force in the United 

Three points, therefore, must be kept in mind in any 
examination: residence use of the lot, its commercial use 
and its convertibility, which latter is incidental to the 
transition from one to the other. 

Under residence use there are again three classes to be 



considered: what may be called high class residences, in 
which the lots are of indefinite extent; middle class resi- 
dences, in which the plotting becomes determinate; and 
plots for workingmen's houses, in which the size is of con- 
siderable importance, because workingmen cannot afford 
to pay for the amenities of life in the sense in which the 
other classes can. 

In order to bring the information most concretely be- 
fore you I will first state the conclusions which have been 
drawn from the data and then adduce more or less of the 
supporting evidence. While it may be a little dry read- 
ing, I would like to list to you the cities in which com- 
mittees have cooperated to secure this information, so that 
you may see the geographical location and the size of the 

Berkeley, Cal., a typical high class residence town, but 
not large; Boston, Mass., the New England metropolis; 
Bridgeport, Conn., an industrial type of relatively small 
size; Brookline, Mass., again a residence type; Chicago, 
the metropolis of the Middle States; Cleveland, a typical 
large city on the Lakes ; Detroit, where we are today ; 
Kansas City, a further Western city of some size; Louis- 
ville, Ky., a typical Southern city, as nearly as could be 
secured; Montreal, one of the two Canadian cities con- 
sidered; New York, in which we must have some interest, 
although the conditions there perhaps are not ideal from 
the point of view of every other city in the United States ; 
Newark, which has independent methods, an entity of its 
own, although very closely following New York, as you 
will see; Philadelphia, which is unique in housing condi- 
tions, as you all know; Syracuse, another small sized typi- 
cal Eastern city; Vancouver, a typical Northwestern city 
which typifies conditions in Canada and the Northwest; 
Washington, D. C, concerning which we all have the be- 
lief that ideals were followed as nearly as possible in the 
original layout of the city. 

I have tried as far as possible to give a digest, a pure 



digest. Sometimes information has been secured from but 
one or two cities, and then a conclusion has not been 
drawn, unless it seems to be typical of other cities within 
the acquaintance of the reporter. 

The first conclusion which would seem to be evident is 
that a standard lot dimension is desirable. Three or four 
cities reporting suggested that desire. The dimensions 
perhaps could not be absolutely definitized, but there seems 
to be a tendency, as you will see from the discussion, to- 
ward a lot size of about 40 feet by 100 to 120. 

With regard to the subject of alleys, slightly over half 
of the cities considered do have alleys, and some of those 
alleys have been deliberately planned. In other cases they 
have been forced upon the real estate developer because of 
the shape and size of his lots and blocks, the alley being 
introduced in order to make use of what otherwise would 
be rear property. Alleys possess both good and bad 
features. A majority of those reporting said that alleys 
as they now are found in the majority of cities were a 
menace. I might inject, however, that it is believed by 
most city planners that they might be made a good thing. 

The subject of restrictions is one which is of great im- 
portance in connection with the determination of lot sizes. 
These restrictions are of various kinds. They may con- 
sist of a simple setback of the structure from the street 
so as to procure a front yard. The size of courts in sim- 
ple dwellings or tenements is important, as are the per- 
centage of area of the lot, the number of buildings per 
lot, and incidentally per acre, when the larger size of lot 
is introduced. In the use of the building there comes in 
again the subject of zoning. The value of the building 
per lot is another important item. That restrictions are 
necessary was very specifically pointed out by the reports 
from Newark, Bridgeport, New York City, Louisville and 
so forth. 

As an example of an alley condition attention may be 
called to the diagram representing an original block in 



Washington. The plat was originally about 500 feet 
square and it was laid out according to L'Enfant's idea. 
As originally designed there was an alley through the 
block, with a sort of an H alley into the two sides. In 
order to secure the use of the land, however, the different 
subdividers inserted alleys to the right of the main alley, 
the cross alley at the top of what may be called the H, 
another outlet with an alley to the right of the H and 
several irregular prongs on the points. 

The conditions in this block finally became so acute that 
they merited congressional action (perhaps a unique case 
in that respect), and Congress passed bills authorizing the 
entire elimination of the central portion of this block and 
its conversion into a playground. The particular point 
to be brought out is that a block of this size, which was 
developed by the use of alleys, became finally so bad (at 
least in part due to the alley situation) that it was neces- 
sary to wipe out a major part of the block. It would have 
been better perhaps to have wiped out the whole block and 
made the playground cover the whole district rather than 
to make it include just the center portion, with a single 
small entrance. This last comment is a parenthesis by the 

Another example of conditions in which the lot was 
found too deep, so that its depth was detrimental, is illus- 
trated in the diagram, which shows a part only of a block 
in the Borough of Manhattan, New York City. This is of 
1850 date approximately and shows that at that time rear 
dwellings had been constructed throughout a large por- 
tion of that block. Since those lots are only 100 feet in 
depth (the blocks being practically standardized in New 
York City at 200 feet in width by varying lengths up to 
800 or 900 feet) there is an evident tendency to the con- 
struction of rear buildings, unless restrictions interfere, in 
lots of even this depth. In some other cities reports 
show that as many as two or three dwellings are found in 
a lot 150 feet deep and that lots even 70 feet deep, in many 


Bleecher Street is a high class residential street. 

Note unrestricted intensive use of aide 
with wooden houses filling deep bacK lots 
only a narrow passageway to street 






Conditions little changed from preceeding except 
tiata larger proportion of some of the lots is built 
over and a few railroad tenements have crept in 

gested \ 
■ brie* 

rooms opening 
i amy *rt wj roet wide. 

Factories have begun to appear 
t units and most ofthe depth of f 
Bleecker is cnan^in^ to a busir 



IN. 1905 

50 _«.«._ 50 100 150 

Lli T i 1 I I =i 

5CALE:IIN.-30 FT. 

1 1 



■ rlriT CAR LINE^ 

i i^f igit '■-■ ' ■"■ ' ■ 

Street 4Ar line 

ft,, deep 
ig, light 


Owing to a new law for courts, they sre largar- 
.in the center than in the former types. Compane 

The larger factories need the full depth of tr« 

Note the different types of tenements and 
the forma into which the deep.narrow lots have 
forced them. 

The tenement in the middle of Thompson .Street 
at *Q" shows approximately the type required by 
the tenement law of 1902 with its larger courts 
end yard covering at least SO per tho lot 


cases, had rear dwellings and, in some cases, rear factories 
erected upon them. 

Unless, therefore, some restrictions are provided the bad 
features of rear buildings must be handled by some special 
means. Such is probably the first cause of the tenement 
house restriction, under which the percentage of the lot 
area which can be covered is definitely stated. The size 
and shape of the courts are also involved, and the various 
other items which are well known in tenement house laws 
are invoked to prevent just such a condition as that men- 

Bad conditions followed by legal restrictions seem then 
to be one of the reasons why lots have tended to be- 
come smaller, down to the condition which would naturally 
and normally prevent such troublesome difficulties as are 

A study of the lot size itself shows that three districts 
in the United States seem to be pretty well differentiated. 
In the New England States (as typified by Boston and 
Brookline) the lots were originally from 50 to 80 feet in 
width by 250 and 300 feet in depth. In Brookline they 
varied from 40 to 60 by 90 to 100, sometimes running up 
to 200 feet in depth. The tendency at the present time, 
as indicated by the reports from Boston, shows that those 
large lots were constantly subdivided until they finally be- 
came only 15 to 25 feet in width, in some instances, and 
only 50 to 65 feet in depth. There is indicated, however, 
on the diagram accompanying the report from Boston, a 
rather interesting feature in that some of these small lots 
are now being again recombined through the conversion of 
the property into larger plots (100 feet square and even 
more) for hotels and department stores. 

The conditions in New England are irregular, not well 
standardized, although the diagram which has been drawn 
as the result of the investigation made by Mr. Olmsted of 
some 700 different plottings, involving several thousand 
lots, seems to show that there is a pretty strong tendency 



to a lot width of about 40 feet and a lot depth of from 90 
to 100 feet approximately. 

Philadelphia is in a class by itself, as you all know. It 
has developed a small lot particularly for workingmen's 
dwellings, the lot being approximately 15 by 45 or 50 

Baltimore follows to some extent this same lot size, but 
otherwise those two cities are unique in the United States. 

New York and Newark have for a hundred years and 
more had a standard lot and a standard block dimension. 
Last evening you heard with regard to New York the reason 
for the establishment of the size of 200 feet between streets. 
The plottings in Manhattan, which occurred just about 
1800, began to have this standardized lot dimension, and 
ever since that time a 25 foot lot in Manhattan and the 
Bronx and a 20 foot lot in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten 
Island has been the standard width, some exceptions of 
course occurring. One hundred feet has been the stand- 
ard depth almost universally. A few buildings have been 
erected on lots 12% or 15 feet wide, but they are very 

In the Western cities (those west of New York and Phil- 
adelphia) the size seems to be considerably larger. But 
the tendency seems again to be toward the same standard. 
Syracuse may be cited, in which the original lots were laid 
out 200 by 200. Then they were reduced to 100 by 200, 
with an occasional lot 50 by 200. Reductions again were 
made, so that the size has come down to about 40 by 120, 
which figure is an average of 5 late real estate plottings. 
That size is actually found in 5 out of 11 and is the aver- 
age of all the 11. In the cities further west the size seems 
to run from 50 to 100 by 150, and up to 200 in some cases. 
Mr. Veiller, in a very interesting report to the Conference 
at Philadelphia, cites 46 cities in which 25 have depths 
more than 125 feet and 9 have depths more than 150 feet. 
In Berkeley, Cal., for example, the original lot size was 
50 by 160. But the owners recombined to suit themselves. 



Lot sold shortly «ft«r JckAf.J.on 

Compil.d by F L. Olmltt<l-«o»., 1914 


They sometimes erected rear buildings, they sometimes 
divided up the property so that three persons would oc- 
cupy the width of two 50 foot lots. The present lot 
size in Berkeley is about 40 feet in width by various 

There seems then to be a tendency toward a standard 
lot dimension, as given. 

The difficulties with lots which are deeper than the 100 
foot standard, or even the 100 foot standard when not re- 
stricted, are very well discussed by the Louisville report. 
The lot area seems to be the prime factor. If a lot must 
be deep, it is usually narrow, and conversely. Deep lots, 
narrow lots, tend toward the use of narrow buildings. 
Narrow buildings are bad from any point of view, whether 
residential or for store use. Lots even 70 feet deep tend 
toward rear buildings. Back dwellings, even alley homes, 
are well known to be usually congested and of low qual- 
ity. The committees of some cities (Cleveland and Louis- 
ville and one or two others) deliberately state that, 
wherever this congestion takes place, often real estate 
values are depleted. This is an economic condition which 
would tend against the construction of alleys, of back 
dwellings, of narrow dwellings, of narrow lots or deep 

It would seem, therefore, that this Conference could very 
well continue the study, gathering statistics from other 
cities. This is all the more true because, as far as further 
physical, sociological and economic facts are concerned, 
they have not been received in a measure sufficiently broad 
to be able to draw any conclusions. 

Chairman Nolen: 

Mr. Goodrich has given but a brief presentation, partly 
with the idea that the additional things that might be said 
would be better selected by questions directed to him. 
This subject is not open now for discussion, but merely to 



give Mr. Goodrich an opportunity to clear any point that 
is not clear or to supplement by additional information 
on any point desired. If there are any questions, Mr. 
Goodrich will be very glad to answer them. 

Mr. H. J. Kei/laway, Boston: 

I would like to ask Mr. Goodrich if in his investigation 
he has found any note in regard to living conditions of 
people of average means with respect to the size of the 
lot. In Detroit I notice there are many individual lots. 
I would like to ask if there is anything contained in the 
investigation with respect to the size of the lot, that is, 
with respect to the number of people that are living on it. 

Mr. Goodrich: 

No data was received from which information could be 
deduced along that line. There was one very interesting 
point, however, which is somewhat similar to that, which 
might be explained, derived from Newark. 

Three subdivisions, each about equally distant from the 
center of the city — the " four corners " so called, the 
intersection of Broad and Market streets — were examined 
and information secured from atlases going back to 1870. 
Of those three subdivisions one was restricted with regard 
to the setback and kind of house, and certain other of the 
usual real estate restrictions were imposed. The other two 
were not restricted. The latter two soon tended toward 
back lot dwellings and factories and depreciated in value as 
far as the general usefulness was concerned. It became 
the poorest kind of tenement district, occupied by for- 
eigners. The relative value of that property with regard 
to the city at large had much decreased. The actual valua- 
tions were about stable, but the property in the vicinity in- 
creased in value, so that relatively those two particular dis- 
tricts decreased in value. On the other hand the restricted 
plot increased more than twice as much as the average for 
the whole community, showing the value of restrictions in 



that particular case upon the valuation. That, inciden- 
tally, has to do with the number of people which are per- 
mitted to live upon the lot and per acre. That is not an 
exact answer to your question, but comes as near to it as 
can be done from the data available. 

Mr. Andrew Wright Crawford, Philadelphia: 

Do you use the term " restrictions " in the sense only of 
restrictions imposed by the developer, or do you use it as 
well in the sense of restrictions imposed by a city through 
local authorities? 

Mr. Goodrich: 

I use it to include all of those several points, the law and 
the real estate restrictions both combined. 

Mr. Kellaway: 

Is there any data with regard to the loss in value on 
city property wherein the size of lots and the character of 
use to which the property is put is involved? For in- 
stance, you have noticed certain districts and lots that are 
occupied by a high class of dwellings. As the city grows 
the people who occupied it first move further out; the 
same sized lot remains, but it is occupied by a different 
class of people. The real estate value goes down, and by 
and by it becomes what is known as the redlight district in 
many instances. The next move is business. Does the size 
of the lot bear in any respect on that development? 

Mr. Goodrich: 

Yes. Information from Philadelphia shows very con- 
clusively that certain districts in that city were affected 
by such conditions as you describe. The original property 
would develop in large plots 100 feet square. As the denser 
population encroached upon those districts the properties 
depreciated in value, literally. The houses were finally 



converted into tenements, and rear tenements and addi- 
tional tenements on the same lots were constructed. And 
because of this original excessive size the resubdivision was 
not of a good class, so that the conditions were made worse 
rather than better. 

In another plot which I recall described in Philadelphia 
was found one of the smallest lot sizes which was encoun- 
tered anywhere, something like 14 by 40, as I recall. The 
original development was an old one. Even though the 
same size or a very slightly larger one has been used a 
great many times since, that original small size seemed to 
limit the development to a poor class of tenants, and that 
property has been constantly of poor quality. 

The people from Philadelphia also gave facts tending to 
show that those smaller houses when new were very much 
liked by the people, but as they grew old, when they became 
about 20 years old, they had depreciated enough so that 
the people moved out to better houses and newer houses of 
exactly the same size and type; but because of their move- 
ment away from that district it depreciated in value. 
Three or four subdivisions are cited showing this tendency 
to depreciate, possibly traceable, they think, to the small 
original size of the lot. 

Mr. Allen B. Pond, Chicago: 

Mr. Chairman, I wish to ask Mr. Goodrich if he thinks 
the depreciation of the lots spoken of is due to the size of 
the lot or whether that is not universal in all types. 

Mr. Goodrich: 

According to my own personal opinion that is so; but I 
can cite the condition in Newark in which two properties 
were restricted and one was unrestricted; one increased in 
value and the other did not. 

Mr. Crawford: 

There is a reduction in the rental value during the period 
while the land value of itself is increasing. Is that a New 



York phenomena and therefore unique? Is New York so 
awfully, viciously unique or has it been carried out in other 
cities as well? 

Mr. Goodrich: 

The only data which will throw any light upon that at all 
was received from Montreal, and the indications are in that 
city that the figures show a marked increase of valuation 
at one period; but taking everything into account as best 
I could, I believe that it was demonstrated by certain lots 
and blocks that there was a depreciating rental value com- 
bined simultaneously with an increasing land value. 

Mr. W. Templeton Johnston, San Diego: 

I would like to ask Mr. Goodrich how severe the restric- 
tions were in the case that he cites in Newark. 

Mr. Goodrich: 

I am not in a position to answer that question. The in- 
dications are simply that of setback, of the size of the 
building and of the original value of the building only. 

Mr. Thomas Adams, Ottawa: 

With reference to the case that has been cited from Mont- 
real, which showed a very striking increase in land values, 
is that the only case which gives information on that point? 

Mr. Goodrich: 

That is the only one which was at all sizable which was 
clear in its indication. The Newark values, for instance, 
indicate a rise on this one restricted property and no 
rise on the other property. Few of the other cities gave 
values which were at all susceptible of analysis. 

Mr. T. S. Morris, Hamilton, Ont.: 

Did I understand you to say that most of the cities, or at 
least a maj ority of the cities, were in favor of alleys in their 
subdivisions ? 



Mr. Goodrich: 

Most of the cities have alleys, either deliberately or as 
a real estate subterfuge; but the majority of the reports 
said the alleys were bad things as now found because of 
their narrow width and the tendency to erect rear buildings 
upon them, these buildings being of poor quality, and be- 
cause as, in the example of Louisville particularly, they 
literally depreciated the value of the real estate. 

Mr. Olmsted: 

Isn't it true to some extent that cities which have alleys 
say they are objectionable, and the cities which have not 
alleys think they may be rather good ; and in regard to the 
objection which is constantly made to alleys, that they lead 
to the erection of rear buildings, isn't that perhaps laying 
up against the alley something for which the alley is not 
strictly responsible? For instance, if you have deep lots, 
the rear buildings come up (unless they are prohibited by 
law), whether you have an alley or not. 

Chairman Nolen: 

I think before we have any additional questions I ought 
to say that we should postpone the questioning for a mo- 
ment, in order that we may have the reports of the local 
committees, and then we will have the entire subject open 
before us. 


Harland Bartholomew 
Secretary, City Planning Commission 

With regard to one of these subdivisions that Mr. Good- 
rich spoke of in Newark, I would like to say that the one 
in the Italian section is the only instance of a bad alley con- 
dition which we have in Newark. After the report had 
been made the superintendent of buildings called my atten- 
tion to the manner in which this occurred. 



The lot was approximately as originally laid out, about 
300 or 350 feet wide. When the subdivision began to come, 
somebody plotted an alley through the middle of that block. 
We have in Newark a restriction which says that no build- 
ing over one story in height shall be erected upon any 
alley, so that the ambitious developer there wishing to put 
more than one story buildings in the back of his 125 or 150 
foot lots went down to the proper authority in the city 
and quietly changed the name of that alley from Aqueduct 
Alley to Aqueduct Street. He then proceeded to build some 
of the worst tenements anywhere from three to five stories 
high which we have in Newark. 

Legislative enactments in Pennsylvania and New Jersey 
have given to plan commissions authority to report on land 
subdivisions in new areas and in old areas which are to be 
resubdivided. That we have never before had an agency 
with authority to supervise and regulate this fundamental 
factor in the city structure is surprising. We must at- 
tribute many of our unfortunate housing conditions and 
all of our improper street arrangements to the practices 
of avaricious land developers in sacrificing all other con- 
siderations to that of obtaining the maximum number of 
building lots in a given tract. 

Although the lot units in common use cannot arbitrarily 
be condemned as undesirable, or in many instances as even 
unwise, there has been lack of forethought by land develop- 
ers and by municipal officials in accepting almost universally 
the unit which is the product of mere chance. That the 
location and topography of different districts clearly de- 
mand different units is obvious. While the scientific de- 
termination of what are the best lot dimensions to adopt 
under certain typical conditions can never do away with 
many evils already existing, it is still possible to purify 
the source of contamination and materially to lessen the 
labor and cost of the usual cures — building code restric- 
tions, tenement house laws, etc. 

The problem of land subdivision is a fundamental part 



of city planning work. Plan commissions in states other 
than Pennsylvania and New Jersey will, no doubt, soon in- 
clude this regulative power within the field of their activities. 

Agencies other than plan commissions have, it is true, 
exercised here and there certain perfunctory powers with 
respect to land subdivision, but previous to the advent of 
city and town planning there seems to have been even less 
regulation of land subdivisions than of street arrangement. 
The professional developer has occasionally changed his 
street plan, but rarely if ever has he devised or changed his 
subdivisions to suit anything other than his own particular 

Since the opinons offered are the result of study of land 
subdivision in Newark, N. J., the conclusions which follow 
are not necessarily applicable to other cities, as, for in- 
stance, Philadelphia, where the familiar " Philadelphia 
style " of house is so prevalent. However, conditions in 
Newark are not exceptional. 

The 25 by 100 foot lot is the accepted standard, although 
no developer can give a reason for its use other than gen- 
eral custom. Multiples of this subdivision appear more 
frequently in the better residential sections, where the home 
builder often buys two, three or four lots. Private re- 
strictions in certain areas require the purchase of two or 
more 25 by 100 foot units for single houses. In neigh- 
borhoods with such restrictions few evils are found. It is 
only after business structures and multiple dwellings have 
encroached on single houses that difficulties arise. The 
majority of objectionable conditions are not foreseen and 
provided against. They appear after a city's rapid ex- 
pansion has compelled a rearrangement of housing condi- 

The problem therefore resolves itself into a question of 
lot dimensions, with every possible change of conditions 
in view, not only in better class residential districts, but 
also in districts affording the best possible housing condi- 
tions for the least rent. 



Subdivisions for commercial and industrial structures 
only are not here considered. 

Land subdivision in a growing city is essentially a ques- 
tion of housing. The first step is to fix a definite minimum, 
all larger subdivisions being multiples of this minimum. 

The primary object of city land subdivision is to admit 
of more intensive use. Some special unit is commonly fav- 
ored, not because it is especially adapted to the purpose for 
which it is to be used, but because of custom. The dimen- 
sions of lots should be determined only after the best dimen- 
sions for the particular type of structure to be erected on 
them has been agreed upon. Experience gives us the fol- 
lowing arguments against the 25 by 100 foot unit. 

(1) It is impossible to build upon a 25 by 100 foot plot 
a dwelling (especially of the multiple type) having two 
rooms abreast, or even one room and a hall, with sufficient 
clearance between buildings to admit of adequate light, air 
and sunshine. 

(2) It is impossible to build upon a 25 by 100 foot plot a 
structure which is more than two rooms deep without creat- 
ing dark rooms or rooms which never receive direct sun- 
light and are not well lighted for more than a few hours in 
the day. 

(3) A building for dwelling purposes demands a certain 
fixed minimum of space, usually a given number of rooms. 
On a 25 by 100 foot plot this minimum cannot be economi- 
cally developed in the form of rooms of sufficient number 
for an average family, arranged as to light, air and inter- 
communication, to furnish fairly healthful conditions for 
a family of average size. The smallest unit upon which the 
results referred to can be obtained is 30 by 100 feet, and 
a greater width is very desirable. For certain reasons I 
venture to suggest a width of 33% feet. 

The suggestion of a wider unit at once raises the ques- 
tion whether such a subdivision will yield a proportionately 
greater financial return than that of 25 feet. I believe it 
can be shown that a structure adapted to the larger plot 



would, if carefully designed, more readily lend itself to its 
intended purposes, yield increased rentals and call for no 
greater investment in proportion to returns. 

A builder of my acquaintance proposed to erect four 
tenement houses upon a 100 by 100 foot plot. He was 
persuaded to build three instead of four and is now con- 
vinced that he is securing a greater return upon a smaller 
investment, by reason of better accommodations, better ten- 
ants and better rents than if he had carried out his original 

It is quite possible that a change in the proportion of 
lot dimensions still more radical than that suggested would 
prove still more advantageous, and in special cases, like 
that of the " Philadelphia style " house, this is undoubtedly 
true. Yet to depart very far from what has for so long 
been an accepted custom would tend to arouse hostility and 
might be less productive of results. It is true that most 
of the harm has been done, and can be undone only after the 
lapse of many years; but the value of making a proper, 
though tardy, start is not to be underestimated. 

Ninety per cent of bad housing conditions in Newark are 
found in structures built on the 25 by 100 foot unit. To 
increase this unit to 33 by 100 feet will not, of course, pre- 
vent all objectional development, for any change in lot di- 
mensions will bring forth new evils, which must be dealt with 
as they arise. 

One cause of much evil is the back lot structure. The 
large number of such structures has led to the advocacy 
of a lot of greater width and less depth. To decrease the 
lot depth means to make the block more shallow, to require 
more streets and a greater area for the same number of 

By decreasing the area of a 33% by 100 foot lot which 
may be covered by buildings and prohibiting back lot struc- 
tures (barns, stables, dwellings, etc.) better results could be 
reached than by working the lot of less depth. 

Upon our conclusion as to proper land subdivision dimen- 



sions depends the answer to another important problem — 
block dimensions. Assuming the unit of 100 foot depth it 
seems wise to follow the present practice in residential dis- 
tricts and make blocks of about 200 by 600 feet or 800 
feet. This block unit, however, is not recommended for 
business districts, since it does not make for efficiency in 
traffic movement. A block 200 by 400 feet seems advisable 
for business districts. By using multiples of the 33% by 
100 feet unit a block dimension of 400 by 400 feet for busi- 
ness districts could well be adopted. Either of these two 
dimensions will suit well the demands of a business dis- 
trict — accessibility and rapid distribution of vehicular and 
pedestrian travel. 

Studies prepared in Newark on land subdivision showed 
that in two sections, equally distant from the center of the 
city, land values actually stood still for 25 years, while the 
normal increase for the entire city during that period was 
somewhat over 200 per cent. In a third section, however, 
the same distance from the center of the city, land value in- 
crease was more than the average increase for the city, a 
growth easily explained by the fact that more or less 
stringent restrictions were enforced by private owners. 
The non-increase in value in the two sections first mentioned 
was apparently due to permitting a promiscuous develop- 
ment, tenements, factories, stores, stables, etc., being de- 
pressingly intermingled. This developmental chaos is 
found in almost all cities and is due generally to the lack 
of proper restrictions. While building codes, tenement 
house laws and the like prohibit much that is undesirable, 
only through restrictions established by private individuals 
has it been possible to obtain the best conditions. Herein 
seems to lie an unanswerable argument for restrictions en- 
forced by the municipality or by other competent public 

To establish standard dimensions for land subdivision is 
perhaps an unwarranted procedure in general. The neces- 
sity of restraining the activities of irresponsible land opera- 



tors makes it seem desirable, however, to fix a definite mini- 
mum dimension. With this exception, and it is a most im- 
portant exception, there seems little reason for greatly 
limiting the freedom now granted to the landscape archi- 
tect and the land developer. 

In the opening of large tracts adjoining a city restric- 
tions should, of course, be placed on the direction and char- 
acter of streets. They should meet the demands of topog- 
raphy and of anticipated traffic. But this topic is not 
within the field of this brief paper. 

I have tried to present a few of the many facts which 
must be considered in attempting to determine proper di- 
mensions for land subdivision. The conclusions have been 
drawn from observations of conditions which are primarily 
bad, and have been presented rather with the hope that 
they may arouse further discussion than with the thought 
that they establish an ideal. 


Joseph Johnson 
Bureau of Survey, Philadelphia 

Our committee has not followed the same lines as com- 
mittees in other cities, for the conditions under which land 
is improved and conversion occurs in Philadelphia appear 
to be quite different from conditions prevailing elsewhere. 
We have rather endeavored to show what are the tendencies 
in Philadelphia. Our studies are selected from practically 
every part of the city except the central section. Land 
subdivision practices common in New England towns pre- 
vail in Philadelphia to only a limited extent, and it has 
seemed to us also that the New York study illustrates what 
is occurring in old sections rather than what is occurring 
or likely to occur in the new sections. In other words, 
these plans do not illustrate what is happening or may hap- 



pen in sections now being developed, and it is these sections 
that it is most necessary to regulate if proper provision is 
to be made for directing land subdivision and city develop- 
ment along the lines which the national conference advo- 
cates. Methods of development will change very materi- 
ally if zoning should become a general practice, and this 
possibility should certainly be considered in connection with 
any change in the practices of land subdivision. 

The conversion of use of property is going on in every 
growing community, but it is doubtful whether the original 
subdivision of the land has very much influence upon this 
conversion. If a change of activity occurs in any section 
for any reason, the improvements will naturally be altered 
to meet the new conditions, and this will be brought about 
either by erecting a different type of structure upon the 
lot as laid out or by consolidating a number of lots and 
merging them into one property. This of course is con- 
stantly occurring, and many instances of it could be shown 
in Philadelphia, but scarcely an instance could be shown 
which would be typical of what is occurring in all sections. 
We might, for instance, show such radical conversions as 
is represented by the Wanamaker building and the Cur- 
tis Publishing Company building, each of which now occu- 
pies an entire block which was originally subdivided into 
much smaller lots and held by separate owners, or we might 
show a block in the center of the city where certain prop- 
erties have the same boundaries as they were given when 
laid out by William Penn, but where adjacent properties 
were resubdivided and buildings erected upon them before 
the city possessed the power to regulate indiscriminate 
building, as it has been able to do during the last sixty 
years. Illustrations of this kind would scarcely be typical, 
and while they would undoubtedly be of much general in- 
terest, they would not illustrate what is occurring today, 
except to a limited extent, in either the case of the Wana- 
maker and Curtis buildings or the other case stated. 

Our studies indicate the present tendencies of land devel- 



opment in Philadelphia, and these tendencies are in some 
respects unfortunate. It has appeared to us that one of 
the chief objects of this investigation should be to recom- 
mend, and if possible obtain, such control as will provide 
for methods of subdivision which will not only be more 
economical in the subdivision of land for the original pur- 
poses for which it is to be used, but will encourage better 
housing, better neighborhood surroundings, larger oppor- 
tunities for practical and progressive city planning, and 
greater permanence and stability of urban improvements. 

It has been an almost invariable custom in Philadelphia, 
under our system of establishing the street system far in 
advance of improvements, for the first improvement to be 
of a character that lasts for a great many years ; these im- 
provements are in the form of the single family row house, 
the detached or semi-detached dwelling, and the single resi- 
dence of a higher type which is erected in some suburban 
sections ; the class first mentioned being greatly in the 
maj ority. 

The development of the one family house in Philadelphia 
is especially interesting. In the early growth of the city 
houses four stories high with deep lots were built in solid 
blocks ; as the city was extended this type of dwelling gave 
way to the three story one upon a smaller lot, and still later 
the two story house came largely into vogue. With the 
change in the type of house there was a corresponding 
change in the size of the lot, the change being almost in- 
variably toward shallower depths for the row houses. 
Today the tendency in some sections of the city is to 
erect the row house upon the shallowest lot permitted, 
the law requiring that each dwelling shall have an open 
space of at least 144 square feet attached to it and a front- 
age of not less than 14 feet. Until 25 years ago it was the 
almost invariable custom to erect the fronts of row houses 
immediately upon the street line, but in more recent years 
it has become the practice to erect porches in front of them. 
The two story house is erected not only for the use of a 



single family, but considerable numbers are being erected 
in some sections of the city, and especially in West Phila- 
delphia, as two family houses, a family occupying each 

There is of course considerable change in some sections 
of the city in the character of the occupancy of the houses 
of all types. Some of the early four story houses which 
were large and substantial are now used as boarding houses, 
apartment houses or lodging houses, and some have been 
converted to business uses without any change of lot lines, 
alterations of the fronts and interiors being made to accom- 
modate them to the new use. This occurs in practically 
every section of the city where local business is encouraged, 
and it is a matter of very frequent occurrence for even the 
two story dwelling to be converted into a store by removing 
the front in the lower story and substituting a store win- 
dow, and there are instances where an entire block of dwell- 
ings has been converted in this manner. It also occurs in 
6ome instances that extensions are placed in the rear of 
such dwellings and also a third story added. 

One of our studies shows a section in the suburb of Ger- 
mantown where the properties were originally quite large 
and were occupied by large mansions. The growth of urban 
improvements in the vicinity has driven out families who 
originally occupied this section and the large properties 
are now being subdivided and converted to the uses of the 
smaller house, as indicated in the study. This form of 
conversion of use is increasing in some sections of the city. 

We have not gone at all into the sociological aspect of 
the problem as it appears to us doubtful whether methods 
of land subdivision, the shape or size of lot, or even the 
character of the first permanent structure erected upon a 
lot directly influenced the sociological results to any large 
extent. A section of this city once occupied by its first 
families is now largely occupied by the foreign element and 
once handsome residences have become almost, if not quite, 
slums; on the other hand some of our smallest dwellings 



are perfectly sanitary and wholesome places in which to 
live. Land subdivision in itself, without proper control 
of the occupancy and use of the land and without the en- 
forcement of proper health and sanitary regulations, would 
scarcely have any large influence in raising the physical, 
intellectual or moral standards of a community; the rais- 
ing of these standards is more largely dependent upon 
education and training and the employment of approved 
hygienic sanitary measures. 


J. C. Murphy 
Member American Institute of Architects 

The Louisville subcommittee was not able to make a 
very complete report because we found the subject a little 
bit larger than we anticipated. And as the report we 
made is rather brief, I will read it. 

The block taken for study is in the city of Louisville, 
Ky., bounded on the north by Chestnut Street, south by 
Magazine Street, east by Eleventh Street and west by 
Twelfth Street. This portion of the city is practically 
level and is laid out on the gridiron plan. The block is 
420 by 420 feet on property lines, with streets 60 feet wide 
on all sides. It is in the older part of the city, within 
three quarters of a mile of the heart of the shopping, hotel 
and amusement center. Chestnut Street is a thoroughfare 
that is occupied by double track electric cars. Twelfth 
Street is a minor crosstown thoroughfare occupied by a 
double track car line of lesser importance. Eleventh Street 
carries much freight traffic to the freight depots and fac- 
tories and is preferred for trucking because of the absence 
of car tracks. The lots fronting on Chestnut and Maga- 
zine streets were originally 200 feet deep, abutting on what 
is locally termed a blind alley, i.e., opened at one end. This 
alley is 20 feet wide. 



Chestnut Street was formerly a street generally occupied 
by the homes of a very good class of citizens, although the 
block under consideration was exceptional in that it con- 
tained small, inexpensive houses. Magazine Street is not 
a thoroughfare and has never been of importance. 

A short distance to the northeast was formerly the center 
of a colored settlement. Shortly after 1884 this settle- 
ment, which was a growing one, spread out and later over- 
lapped the block, driving out the whites, who abandoned 
their homes to the colored element. 

The first encroachment of the colored people caused the 
building of cheap frame houses for that class fronting on 
the alley. These are largely individual or two family 
frame houses. The original houses fronting the surround- 
ing streets were converted or rather used as tenements of 
one or more rooms each, little alteration being made in 

The section is now given over entirely to colored tene- 
ments and the neighborhood has reached a low order when 
measured by property values. 

The assessed value of the land in this block in 1884 was 
at $29,921 and the buildings on it were assessed at $20,600. 
In 1914 the land was assessed at $31,089 and the buildings 
thereon at $30,850. 

Owing to the baneful effect the settlement by colored 
residents has on the market value of real estate in any sec- 
tion in which they begin to come, the city of Louisville, at 
the urgent request of many property owners in sections 
threatened by such settlement, passed a segregation ordi- 
nance. This ordinance prohibits the occupation by colored 
people of dwellings in any city block in which the whites 
are in a majority, at the same time prohibiting the moving 
of whites into any block in which colored people are in the 
majority. The purpose of the ordinance being to segregate 
the colored people, it has been attached in the courts on the 
ground that it discriminates against their rights as citizens. 
The ordinance has been upheld in the lower courts and is 



now pending in the Kentucky court of appeals, our court 
of last resort. 

The building of a cheaper class of dwellings in the alleys, 
such as has resulted in the block under consideration, is 
quite common in Louisville, resulting in an unsanitary con- 
dition of affairs that is not only prejudicial to the physical 
but to the moral health of localities in which it exists. 

This committee early came to the conclusion that our 
present city lots are too deep. Two hundred feet is the 
depth of the original city lots, but they have been made 
of lesser depth in land subdivision by private owners in 
later years, even to the extreme of 100 feet in a few cases. 
We might say, however, that the minimum depth has been 
due to physical conditions that were unsurmountable ; gen- 
erally the strips of land being subdivided were too narrow 
to provide deeper lots. We have seen in the block we are 
studying that although the original lots were 200 feet deep 
their owners cut them in two, making the lots 100 feet 
deep. This is well below the average depth, but we see that 
even this extreme has proven to be the more desirable, as 
shown by the block in question. 

As a result of the great depth of lot purchasers have 
brought as few front feet as possible and there has developed 
different classes of narrow, rather long houses. In nearly 
all cases in Louisville we build single detached dwellings; 
consequently when building a detached dwelling on a nar- 
row lot you have an attenuated affair that must depend for 
light and air on windows opening into narrow, more or less 
dark and damp passages. Occasionally in the older por- 
tions of the city you will find what is locally called " a 
double " house — a house open to the front and back, but 
with a blank dividing wall through the center ; such houses 
therefore can get light from one side only. As this type of 
house was generally built three or more rooms deep and on 
narrow lots we find the troubles of the single house in more 
intensified form. The inner rooms are dark and there is a 
lack of air and freshness. Seldom do we find a block of 



more than two houses attached. In recent years we have 
the apartment house in all styles and grades, from the con- 
verted two or three story single dwelling of former times to 
the large modern structure of 30 to 40 apartments. 

Since the advent of the apartment and tenement house 
and the general awakening as to housing conditions that 
obtains throughout the land the question has been carefully 
studied in Louisville and Kentucky. We now have a state 
law which defines a tenement to be any house in which more 
than two families reside. This law prescribes very rigid 
requirements that must be met in houses of this class, and 
as the law has been enforced and the architects and the pub- 
lic are becoming accustomed to its requirements there is 
evolving a different and much better type of small apart- 
ment than that which preceded the enactment of the tene- 
ment house law, when narrow lots and narrow passages ob- 
tained rather than the broad open courts that result from 
the newer type. 

The law also prohibits the building of a tenement house 
in an alley unless there is left at least 25 feet from the front 
line of the tenement to the property line on the opposite side 
of the alley. A single house or two family tenement may be 
built on an alley of any width provided 6 feet is left between 
the front of the building and the property line. As some of 
our alleys are only 10 feet wide it can happen that a two 
family tenement might be built within 16 feet of a building 
on the opposite side of the alley. 

We might add that it is almost the invariable custom in 
Louisville to provide alleys in all of its city blocks varying 
in width from 10 to 20 feet. Very few blocks in the older 
parts of the city are without alleys and it is very difficult 
to wean the people away from them. Of later years, how- 
ever, the sentiment in this respect is changing, some of the 
later subdivisions being without alleys. The improvement 
has been noted and many of our city builders are predict- 
ing the general adoption of the newer custom. 

In the business portion of the city we find the same gen- 



eral objection to the narrow lot that is found in the resi- 
dence section, a very deep narrow shop with congestion 
at entrance and darkness at the distant rear. In order to 
get any considerable frontage, which in most branches is 
extremely valuable by reason of the opportunity it gives 
to display goods to the public, the shopkeeper is forced 
to the expedient of taking two or more lots, which leaves 
unused space in the rear. This obviously is a most un- 
economical method. 

While we are convinced that our lots are too deep for 
residence and ordinary business purposes, we are still grop- 
ing for light and hope as a result of the experience collected 
by the general committee to be able to adopt something 
that will prove to be more satisfactory. 

The shortening of lots will no doubt have a tendency to 
widen them and do it without unduly increasing the cost 
of the land. More streets for frontage, combined with 
fewer and narrower cross or connecting streets, would en- 
able the landowner to do this without a burden on the pur- 
chaser and we would have districts that would more nearly 
retain their value. Under present conditions where a block 
has been built up we invariably find the same uninviting 
passages, that have a depressing effect on property values, 
as they impel the residents to abandon their undesirable 
houses and move out into the newer sections. This tendency 
is a great economic waste, it reduces the income of the prop- 
erty owner, reduces the city's revenue from taxation and 
we soon have, if not a slum, at least a most uninviting 
section that is always retrogressing. 



Paul A. Harsch 
Vice-President E. H. Close Realty Co., Toledo 

The human mind is a very peculiar thing. I have 
listened with a great deal of interest to the things which 
have just been said, and among other things have heard 
the real estate profession classed as being avaricious. 

I am proud of being a real estate man; I don't believe 
that there is a class of people in the world today who have 
a finer or higher responsibility placed upon them than have 
the real estate men. In our rapidly growing communities 
the real estate man holds a position of the utmost impor- 
tance. It is true that there are in the ranks of the real 
estate profession men who are admittedly avaricious, but 
it is by no means true of the entire profession. 

We have heard discussed the matter of 25 foot lots, the 
matter of 60 foot lots and the matter of 100 foot lots. I 
don't believe that we can say that the 25 foot unit is a 
proper unit, nor the 50 foot, nor the 100 foot unit. We 
must approach the question in a broader and a wider way. 

I recall at this instant a most interesting statement which 
I heard made by a noted Englishman. He said : " We must 
cease to think in cities ; we must cease to think in parishes ; 
we must cease to think in counties and even in nationalities. 
We must think, ladies and gentlemen, in hemispheres." 
Until we can think in hemispheres and then also come right 
back to the practical everyday state of life and think in 
25 foot lots, for instance, we will never be able to solve the 
problems which we hope to solve, which we propose to solve 
by just such meetings as we are attending today. 



Now I have prepared a paper, and I wish to follow it as 
closely as possible, because I believe that the points which 
I have embodied in the paper are things which we, as real 
estate people and as city planning experts, must consider 
together if we are going to work out the problems which 
are before us. 

It may seem an anomaly to make the statement that be- 
tween those who are contributing to the frightful devasta- 
tion in the war-torn countries of Europe and those of us 
who are gathered here today there is a striking similarity. 
This is, however, the exact truth. We are both endeavoring 
to destroy the existing order of things and to substitute 
therefor a new condition amidst other and what we believe 
better surroundings. Here the similarity ends, however. 
Our methods are wholly peaceful and altruistic, theirs en- 
tirely destructive. 

While I am far from admitting that war is or ever can 
be a good thing, as some of our ablest writers and analysts 
contend, still it may be conceded that, in the centuries that 
have passed with their varying degrees of civilization and 
shame or glory, the condition of vast masses of people liv- 
ing in congested areas has been materially modified for the 
better by the fortunes of war. Cities have been partially 
or totally destroyed and rebuilt along lines vitally different 
and frequently far more satisfactory from the standpoint 
of health, happiness and convenience. 

The passing of the walled cities of medieval times pre- 
sented an opportunity for the first time for those not of 
the very rich class to express themselves in detached homes, 
gardens and the like, but it was not until comparatively 
recent times that, even in the most enlightened centers, the 
art of city planning as we now understand it was widely 
practiced. While war and the fear of war prevailed there 
was little incentive for mankind to express itself along this 
line, though as far as the correction of municipal blunders 
of construction was concerned this was often done as a di- 
rect result of war. If, for example, any of our larger 



American cities were threatened by invasion as was Paris 
but a few months ago, and the edict went forth, as it did 
there, to raze all the buildings within a radius of, say, ten 
miles of the present city limits, and the future reconstruc- 
tion were left to a competent commission of trained and 
skilled experts, the result would be an unmixed blessing 
for future generations, however heavy the price. So that 
war undoubtedly has its compensating features. 

We, however, are idealists and not ruthless destroyers of 
an established civilization. Sometimes in moments of im- 
patience we may desire the power of a Napoleon, but in the 
main we are content to wage a war of education instead of 
extermination, and accomplish in this more peaceful way 
greater, better and more lasting good for humanity than 
was even dreamed of in bygone days. 

I have said that we are students of a truer idealism, and 
I take it that we are here today, you men and members rep- 
resenting the rapidly growing and vastly important pro- 
fession of landscape architecture and we of the real estate 
profession, for the purpose of determining in what way 
or ways we can best cooperate to bring to this beloved land 
of ours a greater blessing in the shape of improved homes 
and cities, and we believe, both of us, that in this matter 
we are entirely patriotic, and we are going to strive so to 
combine the idealistic with the practical that at no time 
shall we be charged with being either selfish or chimerical. 

The desire to combine the practical and the idealistic 
and thereby secure more readily and more quickly the re- 
sults we both are striving to attain is, I understand, the 
reason that I have been asked to discuss this subject with 
you. It is that we may get each other's viewpoint and 
thereby develop that closer understanding and relationship 
which is essential to any real cooperation. We have rele- 
gated war to the background and adopted as our slogan 
" Education." 

The world is rapidly growing in its appreciation of the 
beautiful, the perfect and the good, and by giving to our 



communities today improved subdivisions, charming in de- 
sign, perfect in detail and practical in their completeness, 
we are but responding to a demand already latent in the 
consciousness of the public and ready to spring into birth 
when given an opportunity. 

As always, when Truth and Art endeavor to express 
themselves in higher form, there is found the effort to be- 
little and prevent and, if possible, to destroy such expres- 
sions. It is our obligation to detect and circumvent these 

The landscape architect or city planning expert is often 
a " dreamer of dreams," an idealist pure and simple. On 
the other hand the real estate operator is, in a great num- 
ber of cases, entirely given over to the idea of making 
money out of his operations, of getting his commodity 
ready for the market at the least possible expense and 
with the smallest delay, and often without consideration for 
either his reputation or the interest and welfare of the pur- 
chasers of his property or the community as a whole. In 
these regards we are confronted with conditions, not theo- 
ries, but conditions that can and will be rectified. 

The city planning expert must learn to govern his ambi- 
tions, dreams and visions, must be able to make of them an 
inspiration and directing force for the molding of practical 
plans for harmonious real estate development. Coinciden- 
tally the greed and avarice of the get rich quick land specu- 
lator must be curbed and regulated — by law if neces- 
sary — and the ignorance of his well meaning but mis- 
guided brother operator corrected by an educational 
propaganda, to which I shall later advert. 

Let us take first that horn of the dilemma presented by 
the incompetent and ill equipped city planning expert. 
What shall we do with him? Any real estate operation, 
no matter how small, quickly runs into money. Blunders 
are expensive, dangerous and at times discovered too late 
to correct. One such blunder may ruin the man whose 
confidence was misplaced, while the man really responsible 



for the failure simply seeks some pasture new and repeats 
the offense. Experiences like this make the real estate man 
wary and cause him to hestitate long and seriously before 
undertaking anything other than the stereotyped develop- 

It is an axiom that " Idealism that is not practical is not 
ideal." If we would elevate a community by providing 
for it better housing and living conditions generally, we 
must first convince it that these conditions are practicable, 
workable and demonstrable. As with an individual so with 
a community. It must be convinced by hard, clear, well 
thought out facts. 

I believe that when you gentlemen as a profession can 
approach every problem of the real estate man from that 
standpoint and can convince him that you can save him 
money, ease his burdens, make his investment more sure 
and cause his name to be blessed instead of cursed in the 
community, you will have solved the great problem that 
confronts you. For when you have won over the real 
estate fraternity, captured it " horse, foot and dragoons " 
as it were, it will be but a short step to the day when the 
great civic reforms you all dream of will be presented to you 
for achievement. Let me repeat then that I think what we 
need most, if we are to cooperate, is a better equipped lot 
of men to carry out the work you profess to do. 

A landscape architect, to be really great in his line, must 
be more than a civil engineer who can run grades and 
streets curved or straight, as the case may be. He must 
be more than a planting expert, familiar with the living 
things of the great outdoors. He must be more than a 
mechanical expert on matters of construction. He must 
be more than an artist with an eye to the beautiful in nature 
and ready to take advantage of everything she has done for 
him. He must be all of these, and besides he must be so 
practical and everyday and commonplace in his thought 
that he never forgets either the cost of what he proposes to 
do or, more important, that his work must finally stand 



the crucial test of " Will it sell the property at a profit? " 
For if it will not do this latter, then is his labor lost and 
his client's money wasted. But worse than this, the com- 
munity is cursed with a mistake that it may take decades 
to outgrow. Produce such men, gentlemen, and the real 
estate world will follow wherever you lead and account 
whatever price you charge cheap. 

Second and equal in importance is the matter of public 
education. The public should be more fully apprised of 
the nature of the work you are planning to do. I get 
almost all my knowledge of city planning activities from a 
great Boston daily which has an international circulation 
and which comments editorially at frequent intervals on 
this interesting subject. 

Why have you not secured such cooperation all over the 
country? Why do you not tell the public the interesting 
fact that both in New York and Illinois two of our greatest 
colleges have established chairs of city planning? Why 
do you not tell the public of the wrongs you are striving 
to correct and that you are already working along the line 
of procuring corrective legislation? Point out the bad in 
realty development, the unfortunate in civic growth and 
how you propose to correct these. And, gentlemen, I 
assure you the public will be with you, and the real estate 
man will follow you because the public will demand that he 
do so. 

One of two things is almost certain to be true of every 
land development. Either a present or a future need has 
been seen and is being supplied or anticipated, or else the 
sale of questionable land allotments is being stimulated 
fraudulently. It is, of course, patent to all that the opera- 
tor following the first named course is the only conscientious 
one. The others, and their name is legion, are the ones 
who, regardless of all ethics, grasp upon some advantage of 
location or of transportation and by highly colored adver- 
tising frequently sell their additions in a day. What this 
fellow may desire in the way of expert advice you care little. 



You beware of him as you should. But his case will stand 

Just now in Toledo there is an unusual demand for cheap 
lots in outlying districts. This demand has led to the 
platting of acreage property in some instances as far as ten 
miles from the city. This seems beyond reason when it is 
recalled that our population is still under 200,000. Lots 
in these additions sell, however, as many as 336 of the 30 
foot variety being sold recently near Toledo in two days' 
selling. How to regulate this sort of thing and to what 
extent it should be regulated are questions I am not pre- 
pared to discuss at this time, but it is such questions as 
these which make me approach the proposition involved in 
the subject assigned to me with the greatest caution. 

What are the best methods of land subdivision from the 
point of view of the real estate developer? Broadly they 
are those methods which will give him a maximum of prop- 
erty beauty and a minimum of upkeep expense, the largest 
possible number of feet of frontage and the least possible 
waste. This takes us directly to the city planning expert, 
and it seems to me that it is the duty and to the profit of 
all practical idealists to make those of us who do not know 
it realize it. 

Primarily, of course, we real estate men want and must 
have property that will sell. Otherwise there would soon 
cease to be any real estate business. Therefore the first 
question we ask is the intensely practical and, you may say, 
somewhat sordid one, " Will it sell? " 

A planning expert, no matter how skilled, cannot make 
a poor property sell. That is, if the land selected for im- 
provement is badly located with reference to its surround- 
ings, or if, because of topographical conditions, it is un- 
suitable for platting, or if it be inaccessible, or if the cost 
of development be prohibitive, we at once conclude we are 
not interested and seek for a tract where these conditions 
are absent. We naturally and inevitably seek to meet what 
we concede to be a coming need. If we are able to size up 



the situation rightly, we have a section of land ready to 
turn over to the expert for preparation to meet the need 
we have foreseen by the time the need grows into a demand. 

Having reached this point we must again be guided by 
expediency, for the people of one locality are as different 
in their likes and dislikes from those in another, in the 
matter of homes, as they are in their commercial pursuits 
and intellectual tastes. Until they can be educated to a 
different viewpoint we must give them what they want. 
Therefore the question is not what the real estate man 
thinks and wants, but what the people of his community 
want. Thus city planning is merely meeting this demand 
in a scientific way and so relating each individual develop- 
ment to the whole that the final completed city will be a 
thing of beauty and a joy to every dweller therein. 

It is not what you want, gentlemen, nor what we real 
estate men want. It is what the public wants — a great 
variety of developments, so that all tastes and all pocket- 
books may be satisfied and the requirements of widely dif- 
fering group units of population met. This is our task 
and it is our further fine responsibility — to supply all the 
varieties of development demanded by the public in a way 
that will insure the public full value and the community an 
asset for the future. In simpler language, we can sell 
cheap lots or costly ones, but they must all be inherently 
good ones. 

City planning is a quest for the beautiful. Where- 
fore, if we educate our public to an appreciation of the 
beautiful in all civic development, we are leading the way 
to the ultimate good. This brings me to the point at 
which I started — that the whole problem before us, both 
that part confronting you and that confronting us, is a 
matter of education and a matter of publicity. The lat- 
ter should not be a difficult task, since the publicity policy 
of practically every newspaper in the land synchronizes 
perfectly with this idea. Every newspaper in the land 
will support the idea of public improvements when carried 



on along the line we are working, the line of civic uplift and 
public benefit. 

In order to prove my case from the educational stand- 
point I am going to use my own home city as an illustration, 
even at the risk of seeming somewhat partial. In Toledo 
we are trying to foster civic love of the beautiful. We have 
some broad minded, clear visioned men who have given 
up much of their lives and large amounts of money to make 
this possible. Their vision has already been materialized 
in a most excellent system of public parks with a splendid 
connecting boulevard now under construction. Probably 
no city in the country patronizes its parks more liberally, 
population considered, than Toledo. 

We are already committed to the creation, in the near 
future, of a civic center involving a half dozen city blocks, 
to be given over entirely to public and quasi-public 

But the one thing, more than all else, that has done 
and is doing most to create a love of the beautiful in 
Toledo is our splendid art museum. This was built by 
popular subscription, much of the burden being borne, how- 
ever, by one public spirited citizen. The institution has 
grown in popularity until the year's admissions to the build- 
ing now amount to practically 90 per cent of the city's 
population, an enormously greater per cent than has been 
achieved by any other American center, not even excepting 
cultured Boston. 

I think that the influence of this exquisite building, 
this wonderful temple of beauty, cannot be over-estimated. 
In itself it inspires a love of the beautiful that must surely 
grow into a factor not only for better civic development, 
but for better moral development, a great esthetic growth, 
if I may so put it. But it does even more. Through 
the medium of " City Beautiful " campaigns and numer- 
ous exhibitions calculated to draw people of all classes 
to the museum in large numbers and to arouse their in- 
terest in improving the quality of their work, the char- 



acter of their homes and the beauty of their surround- 
ings, it brings the public generally into closer relations 
with the beautiful, puts them on familiar terms with such 
things. Because the public of Toledo looks upon this 
great marble palace and the treasures it shelters as its own, 
looks upon its beauties with a proprietary eye and is proud 
of this beauty in the city's life, they must naturally be 
inspired with a desire for such things in all their surround- 
ings. We believe this spirit is one that must be inculcated 
and developed if the higher ideals of the city planning en- 
thusiast are ever to be realized. 

This is the spirit we must inspire. It will be the big 
factor in bringing success to the educational campaign you 
and we alike feel must be conducted if we are to put city 
planning, in its higher sense, into the everyday life of our 

I thank you very much for your attention, and while 
I may not have said as much along the line of desires of 
real estate men in the way of subdivision development, I 
cannot help but feel that the only way we can bring out 
that perfect cooperation is by working along the lines which 
I have outlined. 

Mr. Lee J. Ninde, Fort Wayne: 

It is somewhat difficult to pick up the trend of thought 
that Mr. Harsch carried out so successfully this morning, 
but his interest in the work of the city planners reminds 
me of my own experience a year ago. 

When I attended the Sixth Conference at Toronto, I 
was young in the real estate business as well as new to the 
subject of city planning. It may have been because of 
my inexperience that it was new and delightful to me and 
that I became quite enthusiastic over its possibilities. The 
wisdom of foresight in planning our cities seemed so reason- 
able to me and so much a matter of course that I thought 



that real estate dealers of longer experience than myself 
would undoubtedly have taken a deep interest and would 
have acquired a broad knowledge of the subject. 

Two months after the Toronto Convention I attended 
the convention of the National Real Estate Association at 
Pittsburgh and immediately began to talk to my brother 
real estate men, who had come from all parts of the United 
States, about this subject of city planning. These men 
who had platted and laid out subdivisions comprising thou- 
sands of acres, men whose dealings had run into the mil- 
lions of dollars, to my surprise took no interest whatever 
in the subject of city planning. I was rapidly forced to 
the conclusion that we needed widespread education along 
the lines of city planning and that we real estate men had 
better begin at home. The propaganda should start with 
ourselves. We should find some point of contact between 
ourselves and the professional city planners. Upon reflec- 
tion I concluded that a point of common interest was the 
subdivision and that the experience of real estate men in 
sales campaigns qualified them to advise, in a practical way, 
on an educational campaign in city planning. You all 
know that the real estate men spend more for advertising 
and are more interested in its practical results than any 
other group of people who have to do with city planning. 
They advertise to obtain results. 

The secret of a successful propaganda, whether it is for 
the marketing of a new chewing gum or for the sale of a 
million dollar subdivision, is the intelligent persistence that 
is put into it. The laws of publicity, of which advertising 
is a part, apply as well to the establishment of city plan- 
ning as a national institution, with the difference that where 
the real estate operator pays thousands of dollars for space 
in the newspapers, the city planning organization gets a 
better space in the news columns for nothing. The city 
planning report that was made at the Real Estate Conven- 
tion at Pittsburgh recommended that the City Planning 
Committee should become one of active importance; that 



it should actively enter the field and be not merely a com- 
mittee to discuss these subjects once a year and make a 
report, then forget about it for another twelve months. 

The authority requested by the City Planning Commit- 
tee was granted by the National Association and the com- 
mittee was instructed to affiliate itself with committees 
from other associations, such as the National Housing 
Association, American Civic Association and this City Plan- 
ning Conference. 

At Mr. Harsch's suggestion our City Planning Com- 
mittee met in Washington last December in attendance at 
the American Civic Convention. While there, of course, 
we got into a hotbed of city planning men; among them 
were Mr. Nolen, Mr. Olmsted, Mr. Ford and others. The 
suggestion was made there that we should have some joint 
action among the various associations that were working 
along the line of city planning. In other words, the idea 
was that we should concentrate the interests of all the asso- 
ciations which touch on city planning into a single com- 
mittee that should take up a widespread educational 

I suppose it was really up to the real estate men, as prac- 
tical operators, to go ahead with this plan, but we find, in 
spite of what Mr. Harsch said this morning about you city 
planners, that there are among you some exceedingly prac- 
tical men. Mr. Ford is one of these and seized the sugges- 
tion, that was made in this meeting in Washington, to 
proceed to get into correspondence with fourteen national 
organizations that have more or less to do with the subject 
of city planning. His efforts have been so successful in 
interesting the executive officers of these organizations 
that we have here at this conference representatives from 
twelve national associations. They represent a membership, 
as near as we can estimate, of from twenty-five to thirty 
thousand members. Those various representatives will meet 
on this occasion to discuss methods for instituting a cam- 
paign of educational publicity. 



When we stop to think of the tremendous potential influ- 
ence of the different organizations and the widespread power 
of their membership and how it is possible, through them, 
to reach into every city and town in the United States, we 
can then realize how epochal this meeting will be if it will 
bring about the direction of all that influence toward in- 
telligent city planning. 

Mr. Ford has arranged a meeting to take place after the 
regular session this evening, at which representatives from 
these organizations will talk over such a movement. 

Why should we not, as Mr. Adams suggested at a break- 
fast meeting this morning, undertake to get the cooperation 
of one of the departments of our government, as they do 
in Canada? The services of the Post Office Department 
should at least be enlisted in the distribution, at the proper 
times and places, of our educational literature. 

The associations that are interested here have been 
gathering together and marshaling their forces for a num- 
ber of years. The City Planning Conference is now in its 
seventh year. It has lived through its period of organiza- 
tion and has grown lusty during its playtime. It has come 
to its maturity, and a very early maturity at that, because 
the American Banking Association for twenty-five years 
met, talked, did nothing and went home. Finally they 
started some practical ideas. Someone suggested that their 
committees undertake the education of the public along 
various lines. They came to the belated conclusion that 
the great benefit from their meeting should be the ideas 
and education that they could impart to their people at 
home. In the Northwest the bankers are leading in the 
movement for agricultural education. They are even mak- 
ing miniature county fairs of their banking rooms for the 
display of fruits and vegetables. They are doing this for 
the indirect benefit to their fraternity that comes from 
the prosperity of their community. 

The National Real Estate Association has been in exist- 
ence for eight years. It is now time for them to do some- 



thing, and there are several other associations that have 
been in existence long enough to take an active interest. A 
personal acquaintance has been created and a spread of 
friendliness that can be turned to wonderful account. Is 
there higher altruism than the cooperation of these asso- 
ciations in the advancement of city planning? Is it not 
time for us to find some practical way of utilizing this fund 
of friendship, to devote it in a practical way to accomplish- 
ing practical ends and making it blossom forth in a broad 
work of altruism? 

King G. Thompson, Columbus, Ohio: 

Since in my opinion the campaign of education proposed 
by this body must begin with the subdivider, I do not know 
how I can better serve the purpose of this meeting than by 
giving you my personal experience in attempting to apply 
to my business some of the ideas of city planning. We may 
work out an ideal plan of beautification for our city, but 
when that plan is done we must answer many practical 
questions. Do the streets serve the purposes of trade as 
well or better than those existing? How can the money be 
raised to make these improvements? Will it pay, etc.? 
Now the subdivider must answer these questions for himself, 
and upon his answer depends a large part of our city 

My purpose here today is to give the point of view of 
one who is in the land business for the primary purpose of 
making money. I did not enter the land business some 
years ago because I had any theories of city building to 
work out, but merely because I thought I could make a liv- 
ing at it. Secondarily I have been developing a great and 
growing interest in the humanitarian side of my business. 
One cannot follow this line of business long without coming 
to see the tremendous importance of city planning and in- 
telligent platting to the coming generations. We have suf- 
fered too much from the errors of the past generation not 
to be concerned over what follows us. 



In Columbus, as in most other cities of this country, the 
owner of unplatted land has used his own discretion in 
platting, with very little thought for surrounding prop- 
erty and little consideration for future generations. It 
almost seems as if the owners in the past doubted the con- 
tinued growth of cities, so little preparation did they make 
for the future. We have large subdivisions in Columbus 
where not a single street coincides with the streets on abut- 
ting property. We have had for some time laws requiring 
the approval of street layout by the county commissioners 
and the city engineers, also the director of public service, 
and conditions have vastly improved, but the great and en- 
couraging improvement has come through education. The 
educational work done by the National Real Estate Asso- 
ciation and this organization has been eagerly followed by 

The public has come to appreciate the results of city 
planning as never before. The real estate man must keep 
pace if he is to succeed. He must give the public more 
park space, wider and more direct thoroughfares and 
quieter, more attractive residence streets. I have been going 
through the evolution I have indicated along with the rest, 
and I am quite sure that the success of subdivisions in the 
future will depend more upon the landscape engineer than 
the civil engineer. It is, of course, true that the plans of 
any landscape engineer must be adjusted to meet local con- 
ditions and the state of public opinion in a given locality, 
but I consider the landscape engineer indispensable in any 
large undertaking and very valuable in a small one. 

It may be of interest to those of you who are subdividers 
to get a resume of the results of our work in Columbus, a 
city of 200,000 people. I have there in the last 12 years 
subdivided some 1400 acres of land in tracts ranging from 
10 to 200 acres. These subdivisions have been uniformly 
successful from the usual standpoint, but I cannot be as 
proud of them as I would like from the standpoint of a city 
planner. Blame for this result is due to my lack of knowl- 



edge and inspiration. I simply followed in the footpath 
of my predecessbrs, looking at the land as a purely com- 
mercial proposition to be bought and sold at so much per 
yard or foot. We have begun to see now that that view 
of real estate is not the correct one and that we have an 
equity in our neighbor's lot as well as in the street which 
passes in front of both our homes. The subdivisions to 
which I referred were laid out for the most part as a tailor 
cuts his suit of clothes — to get the most out of his cloth. 
This represents our error and our loss, for if I had the 
same land today, I could not only make a great deal more 
money out of it, but I could do the community a service 
which would live long after I am dead and leave a perma- 
nent imprint on my city. 

It is true that in the last few years we had begun to get 
more light and had begun to curve our streets, even where 
the rough nature of the land did not require it, and to dedi- 
cate small parks and otherwise spend money on beautifica- 
tion. The results, as I look over these subdivisions to- 
day, are so far from what they might have been that I 
am willing to make to you a most humble confession of a 
failure, in the hope that it may help others to avoid similar 

Some five years ago Mr. Kelsey, Mr. Robinson, and others 
were employed to work out a city plan for Columbus. Out- 
side of an unsuccessful effort to vote $350,000 of bonds 
for a City Hall site, nothing has been done under these 
plans, and yet I believe they are firmly fastened on our city 
and the educational work done through the public agitation 
concerning these plans has made it impossible for any 
important public improvement in the future to be 
made without some reference to these plans. It is like 
the sower who went forth to sow. Some of the seed has 
fallen on good ground and will some day blossom into 
a definite program of beautification and rearrangement of 

A most noticeable effect is shown in recent subdivision 



work about Columbus. Subdividers were quick to see the 
appeal which could be made to the public by applying these 
plans for beautification and for the extension of main thor- 
oughfares through that part of the suburbs in which they 
were operating. For example, we have purchased 1000 
acres lying four to five miles from the center of the city be- 
tween the Scioto and Olentangy rivers, which unite near 
the center of the city, a section comparatively undeveloped, 
and since last August have sold $200,000 worth of lots and 
have now under construction eight homes ranging in price 
from $5000 to $15,000 each. I am giving these figures 
concerning our own development to emphasize the fact that 
planning pays. During the past six months the sale of lots 
in ordinary straight street subdivisions has been very slow, 
and I believe the measure of success which has come to us 
would have been impossible if we had not had the inspira- 
tion of the Columbus city plan and if we had not in ac- 
cordance with that plan laid out a subdivision which will 
afford the people of Columbus not only better access to the 
city, but more beautiful drives and more park space. We 
have planned out streets and thoroughfares to anticipate 
the needs of future generations and we have added as much 
beautification as possible, always being careful not to inter- 
fere with the main purpose of streets, that of conveying 

I believe that with facts and figures I can demonstrate to 
any hard-headed subdivider that beautification pays in 
dollars and cents. I believe that I can go further and say 
that if local conditions are met, a plan of beautification and 
a scientific study of streets and thoroughfares are indis- 
pensable to success. I think I would now as soon attempt 
to build a house without the services of an architect as I 
would lay out a subdivision without the help of a landscape 
architect. When I make these statements, I realize that 
they sound trite to you, but when I consider the long road 
I have traveled to reach these conclusions, I know that they 
are not said in vain. 



Mr. Olmsted: 

What I have to say is with reference to what was said 
this morning by Mr. Bartholomew in discussing the lot 
sizes at Newark. I wish also to talk upon the paper of 
Mr. Thompson. Both of these speakers were discussing 
the variations in the width of lots only, assuming a certain 
fixed depth. Of course we all know that such adjustments 
in width are very important in order to get the lots right 
in width for given conditions. But we must not forget that 
it is quite possible, if you make a mistake, to change the 
lot width. Where the lots are plotted 25 by 100 the lot 
width is often adjusted to meet the needs of purchasers 
by splitting two lots into three, giving a 16% foot width, 
or by cutting three lots into two, giving a 371/2 foot width, 
or otherwise. On the other hand, when once you fix the 
lot depth, you fix it for all time. If changed at all it can 
only be by very difficult and usually bad expedients. So, 
from the point of view of city planning, the question of lot 
depths is of much more vital importance than lot widths, 
the two being very closely interrelated. 

Mr. Bartholomew pointed out the evils of the narrow 
25 foot width, evils that we all recognize. He urged that 
the lots ought to be, say, 33% feet wide instead of 25. But 
he was talking about making them 33% by 100 instead of 
25 by 100. That means a more costly lot, a lot upon which 
it is impossible for people to live without giving up more 
money for rent. What we most need to seek is a lot for 
the same price which is better than the 25 by 100. 

I did a little figuring after I heard Mr. Bartholomew's 
paper. The total cost, which determines the price at which 
lots can be profitably sold, is made up of two main elements. 
One is the cost of the undeveloped vacant land. The other 
is the cost of development, including street construction 
and other incidentals. Assuming that the land cost 5 cents 
per square foot gross, that is just over $2000 an acre, the 
land cost for a 25 by 100 lot — including half the width 
of a 50 foot street, or a total area of 3125 square feet — 



would be $156.25. Assuming that the improvements cost 
$5 per front foot, that element of the total cost would 
amount to $125 for a 25 by 100 lot, making $281.25 for 
the cost of the lot. Now, if you make that lot 33% feet 
wide, it means that you have increased its share in the cost 
of improvements approximately in proportion to the front- 
age of the lot — not exactly so, because there are other 
factors, but roughly in proportion to the frontage. You 
must, therefore, allow $166.66 as the cost for the improve- 
ments. If the lot is to sell at the same price, its cost must 
be limited to the same figure as before, $281.25. This 
leaves you only $114.59 for the land. At 5 cents a foot, 
that comes to 2292 square feet, and if you have the same 
width of street as you had before, 50 feet, that gives you 
a lot only 43% feet deep. The question is whether for the 
purchaser and for the city a lot 33% feet wide and only 
43% feet deep is a better proposition than a lot 25 by 100. 
The above comparison is not quite fair because it is to 
be assumed that in the long run a street bordered by such 
very shallow lots would be less intensively used than one 
bordered by deep lots. Suppose we assume a reduction 
of the width of the street from 50 to 40 feet, reducing the 
land occupied by the street and also cheapening the im- 
provements per front foot. On that basis, figuring 40 
foot streets and allowing as little as $4 a front foot for the 
improvements, a lot 33% feet wide would be chargeable 
with $133.33 for improvements, leaving $147.92 out of 
the total cost of $281.25 to pay for land. At 5 cents per 
square foot that gives 2958 square feet, including half the 
width of the street, or, after deducting half the width of 
the street, a lot 68% feet deep. Upon the assumptions I 
have made, therefore, one could get for the same cost either 
a lot 25 by 100 feet on a 50 foot street or a lot 33% feet 
by 68% on a 40 foot street. I think most of us would 
agree that for a detached single family residence the latter 
is a better lot, although it contains about 10 per cent less 
area. Even that is open to argument and a strong case 



can be made against it on the score of inadaptability to 
other uses. 

To sum up, for the same cost you cannot have as large 
a lot if it is wide and shallow as you can if it is narrow and 
deep. But a smaller wide lot, which can be produced for 
the same cost, may be worth more to the occupant than a 
larger narrow lot. When the public understands this to 
be the case, it will pay more for the wider smaller lot and 
real estate developers will be quick to supply the demand. 

What we need to get at is a better basis for determining 
what is the happy mean, under given conditions, between 
the impossibly narrow deep lot of comparatively large area 
and the impossibly shallow wide lot of comparatively small 
area, since we cannot as a matter of economics give the 
same area in each. 

Mr. N. P. Lewis, New York: 

I am very glad indeed that this subject of land subdi- 
vision was put on the program. It marks a distinct ad- 
vance in the usefulness of our discussion. 

Land subdivision, after all, is city planning. City 
planning is land subdivision. In the report of the com- 
mittee, references were constantly made to standard lot 
widths. These standard units, I think the committee will 
admit, are selling units. While they prevail quite gener- 
ally, they are by no means units for building. For instance, 
in those portions of New York City where the lot unit is 
20 by 100 feet, we find that builders who have three lots 
will frequently divide them into four building plots, each 
but 15 feet wide. If they have four lots, amounting to 
80 feet, they will divide them usually into either five or six 
building plots. Similarly, the man who has five lots, or 
100 feet, is very apt to subdivide the plot to permit the 
erection of six, seven, or even eight houses. Of course, 
they are attached or block houses. The result is that while 
a standard lot unit of 20 by 100 feet prevails, the house 
unit is any old thing, and we find them 12%, 13%, 15, 16 



and 17 % feet in width, and relatively few of them 20 feet 
wide or of the same width as the original selling unit. In 
fact, there is no such thing as a standard lot for building 
in most cities. 

While I do not want to repeat Mr. Olmsted's argument, 
I do want to briefly outline a little experimental subdivision 
which I made on an area comprising approximately 25 
acres of actual plotting in Brooklyn; a triangular area 
bounded on two sides by streets 100 feet wide, on the third 
side by a street 80 feet wide. The subdivision now existing 
is the entirely conventional one prevailing in the neighbor- 
hood. It is divided into blocks 200 by 700 feet in length, 
streets 60 feet wide in the one direction, and 80 feet in 
the other. The buildings thus far erected have been on 
40 foot plots. That seems to be the type of development 
expected. All of those lots are 100 feet deep. This method 
of subdivision gives 204 plots, although on account of the 
oblique intersection of some of the streets with the diagon- 
als, some of the lots were irregular in size and shape. The 
average was 4041 square feet. 

The subdivision of that same area by streets 40 and 50 
feet in width, — I venture to suggest those widths for the 
reason that we are sure of our bounding streets of 80 or 
100 feet, — will result in a considerably increased expendi- 
ture for sewers, curb and sidewalk, but allowing for road- 
ways of 16 and 20 feet in width, which will suffice in that 
neighborhood, the area of the street pavement will be very 
largely reduced, and the cost per lot, — 50 feet in width 
and 60 feet in depth, of which there will be 259 as against 
204 under the conventional plan, will be $478 instead of 
$589. These estimates are based upon the use of asphalt 
pavement. If macadam were used for the roadways the 
difference in cost would be reduced from $121 to $95, but 
it would still be in favor of the plan providing for the wider 
and shallower lot, while this plan also provides a little 
neighborhood park of half an acre. 

The committee states that most of the cities reporting 
expressed the belief that there should be a standard. In 



my judgment a standardized lot would be distinct misfor- 
tune. A standard lot will inevitably mean a uniform depth, 
with a varying frontage when it comes to building, and, 
with the irregular areas which we find in any intelligently 
planned city, I believe in allowing the largest latitude in 
the subdivision of such areas, whether they are to be devoted 
to homes or business. 

Mr. Henry Wright, St. Louis: 

Although appointed chairman of the committee for St. 
Louis, one of the cities selected by your general committee, 
I have to offer as an excuse for not having forwarded my 
report the fact that we have just been having a city plan- 
ning exhibit in which I have taken active part and which 
has largely occupied my time during the last few months. 

Previous to this time I had carefully examined the re- 
ports sent out by your committee and I have listened with 
interest to the discussion of the subject during the present 
conference. It seems to me, without wishing to be consid- 
ered critical, that almost your entire discussion of the sub- 
division problem has been directed to conditions arising in 
older cities, such as those principally found in the Eastern 
States, and does not altogether apply to the problem as 
found in the newer Western cities. The deductions seem to 
be centered upon an attempt to subdivide residential prop- 
erty in such a way as later to accommodate its usefulness 
for business, or at least for other purposes requiring a 
much more congested population than that originally in- 
tended. The various examples cited in detail by some of 
your committees would seem to suggest this as being of 
paramount importance. However, it might be well to stop 
and question whether those conditions which have arisen 
over a century of changes, largely during a period of in- 
adequate transportation, will necessarily be repeated in 
the next century with rapid transportation and automobile 
convenience. In the light of the changes which are taking 
place in our cities, due to these more modern influences, it 



seems to me that the general problem is somewhat altered 
so that in the future we may encounter a situation, such as 
that now actually taking place in St. Louis, in which the 
older sections of the city are being evacuated fully as rap- 
idly, or in many cases more rapidly, than they are being 
reoccupied, so that while the character of the occupants 
may continually change, the tendency of congesting the 
outlying portions of the city has materially diminished. 

Should this premise seem reasonable, it would then seem 
to be more rational to direct our main attention, not to 
preparing our residential property for some future use 
other than for residential purposes, but rather to study and 
prepare such property for its best use and highest efficiency 
for the purpose for which it is originally developed. 

Perhaps this might be qualified to the extent of dividing 
the city into zones; for instance, in a city such as St. 
Louis — the plan of which is a huge fan radiating from the 
business center — there would be first the logical business 
district of two miles radius, next the probable business and 
manufacturing district of perhaps three miles additional 
radius, and finally the border district of three to four miles 
additional radius, in which it may be well to anticipate cer- 
tain business centers, but in which it would seem unneces- 
sary to consider the transition of the whole district into 
anything other than property suitable for living purposes. 
This might seem still more convincing when we consider 
that the area of the business district contains approxi- 
mately five square miles, the second zone ten and the final 
zone thirty-five square miles. Certainly throughout this 
final zone the importance of its probable use as residential 
property could be permitted to take precedence over the 
uncertain possible conversion into business property, espe- 
cially should our cities adopt the zone system which is be- 
coming most notable in all of the later general city plans 
where advanced thought is being applied. I have therefore 
directed my own thought primarily upon the problem of 
how best to subdivide property for the usual standard resi- 



dential conditions to be found in our own community, with 
due consideration of experience elsewhere. My own activ- 
ities being largely occupied in an exclusive class of sub- 
division which would be of no value to this study, I trust 
that I have been able to look at this problem from an un- 
prejudiced viewpoint. 

In St. Louis we have what will seem to most of you an 
unusually generous method of subdivision; practically all 
streets are 60 feet wide and the lots average 160 feet deep 
with additional space of 15 feet for alleys. Even with this 
generous lot depth, street spaces, including cross streets 
and alleys, occupy over 25 per cent of the actual ground 
area. The result of this wasteful and over-generous sub- 
division has had, I believe, a direct bearing upon the char- 
acter of the improvements and use of the property. The 
proportion of individual residences during the recent years 
is quite small and the so-called " flat " — a building con- 
taining a common party wall and two individual units on 
each floor — has become the rule. This would seem to be 
a direct result of a high front foot cost caused partly at 
least by a deep lot subdivision and excessively expensive 
street improvements. 

I deduced from my early examination of conditions a 
theory that a reduction in both of the above elements would 
result in a larger percentage of individual lot ownership, 
which is certainly a thing devoutly to be desired. I have 
been fortunate to find that actual conditions seem to bear 
out this theory in some of the more recent subdivisions, al- 
though it has been difficult exactly to parallel the original 
conditions. Before citing one such comparison permit me 
to indulge in one other theoretical deduction, which may 
seem to have a bearing more upon the plan of the city 
as a whole rather than the individual lot subdivision, but 
which, nevertheless, will affect the individual property owner 
in reducing the front foot cost; this is the actual street 
arrangement. Practically all of our residential territory 
has been laid out with frontage streets running toward the 



business center. This necessitates additional cross streets 
in order to reach the main lines of communication. The 
general practice of this has led to making all such streets 
of a uniform width of 60 feet because of the possibility 
that any one of these may become a main avenue of passage 
for the public. The roadway of such a street cannot well 
be less than 30 feet and is usually at least 36 feet wide — 
much wider than is required for any private use — and 
those owning property fronting upon any given street 
which may be well paved are at once penalized for their 
thriftiness by inviting a continuous stream of main traffic 
by their doors. This may certainly be corrected to a large 
extent by establishing the general principle that as many 
streets as possible designed for private use should either 
not be laid out continuous or should run at right angles 
to the main line of traffic, the latter seeming to have the 
greater advantage. Of course such a rule presages the 
existence of sufficient main streets to accommodate the pub- 
lic traffic. A roadway 26 feet wide, or in many cases no 
more than 20 feet, is quite sufficient for a shorter private 
thoroughfare, not only saving in cost, but increasing the 
amount of space devoted to parking, which in our city is 
usually only 4 to 6 feet and quite insufficient for the growth 
of well developed trees. The principal advantage, however, 
will be that of securing greater privacy and permanency 
for residential use, and thus to counteract to some extent 
the tendency toward rapid abandonment of residential dis- 
tricts, which has been the chief cause of those conditions 
necessitating an altered use of such property. 

Permit me to follow out these theories with an actual case 
in the more recent development of St. Louis, in which two 
sections are taken in the same neighborhood, each contain- 
ing about 90 acres and extending back 1800 feet from the 
central line, which is the principal main thoroughfare of 
that section. On one side the property takes in a part of 
three different subdivisions, all on right angle lines with 
main frontage paralleling the principal street and having 



the necessary cross streets, while in the opposite subdivi- 
sion the whole has been developed under a single plan in 
which curvilinear streets have been used, but in which the 
street arrangement is such as to eliminate a considerable 
percentage of waste side frontage. 

In the latter the streets having no through connection 
are narrower, permitting a greater privacy, a much shal- 
lower lot subdivision and a decreased cost of construction 
and maintenance. 

The results may be tabulated here as follows: 



Area of tract . . , 
Number of lots 
Building frontage 
Side frontage . . 
Average frontage . 
Average depth . . , 
Cost per front foot l 

90 acres 

92 acres 



7,600 feet 

22,400 feet 

8,200 feet 

5,600 feet 

49 feet 

63 feet 

165 feet 

135 feet 



While the value of such an actual example is always im- 
paired by the existence of special conditions which cannot 
be entirely explained, I feel that I can safely say that in 
the case of the two sections above cited the external condi- 
tions have been such as to give them an equal advantage 
in the matter of their development, with the preference if 
any in favor of the straight line subdivision. However, the 
individual improvements are relatively more attractive in 
the other section. As shown by the table, the resident has 
in the right hand subdivision the advantage of the wider 
frontage, at the same cost per lot, and this seems almost 
invariably to result in at least a more attractive architec- 
tural design, and in most cases the better maintenance of 
the property, both public and private, than is to be found 
in the opposite section. 

The result of greater privacy is already being felt, the 

1 Cost based upon same value of land, $2000 per acre, and assuming 
aame grading cost and same price per unit for improvements. 



tendency being to keep up the standard on the right hand 
and to reduce it under some conditions on the left. 

I feel that this is quite sufficient to establish the superior- 
ity of a residential property of comparatively broad front- 
age and shallow depth, with a street arrangement offering 
a maximum of privacy. 

Hon. Edward M. Bassett, New York: 

I think that the suggestion of intermediate unopened 
streets is one that has been considered in New York City, 
but there at least it would have many disadvantages. One 
would be that while the street was on the map and unopened, 
people would build in the bed of it, even locate on it indus- 
tries with large buildings, and then when the street was 
opened later, the cost of purchasing and demolishing these 
buildings would be assessed upon the abutting property. 
It is often an invitation to builders because they know that 
sooner or later the city will buy their improvements. It 
is therefore very necessary in our state that there should 
be an ability to preserve the bed of proposed public streets 
against improvements which will have to be paid for later. 

In New York City, and especially in the Borough of 
Queens, there is a tendency to lay out building plots suffi- 
ciently large so that the home owner can have his own auto- 
mobile garage and space beside his home for access to it. 
We are going to hear more of this in the next ten years 
because automobiles are getting so inexpensive. 

In the law office with which I am connected we make a 
good many first mortgages to small builders in the Borough 
of Queens, and during the last six months I have heard from 
at least ten builders who usually construct houses on lots 
of about 20 to 30 feet in width and 100 feet in depth. Now 
they want wider lots in order to leave a space for auto- 
mobiles between the houses. They tell me that if this is 
not done it hurts in the selling of the house. These houses 
sell for $3800 to $4500. You cannot make a building lot 
much under 100 feet in depth and still provide a living 



place for a small household with the conveniences that seem 
to be coming in the future, reckoning as one of these con- 
veniences, the low priced automobile, which seems to be tak- 
ing the place of the summer vacation for many families of 
moderate means. 

Mr. Thomas Adams, Ottaw, Can.: 

I think that we have scarcely appreciated an important 
difference between England and the American continent, 
namely, the comparative scarcity and dearness of land on 
this side of the Atlantic. The American system of sub- 
dividing land and speculating in its building use causes 
real scarcity for housing purposes in most cities. This 
condition helps to create a serious obstacle to giving greater 
spaciousness around buildings, to restricting heights of 
buildings and to providing deeper lots. It is difficult to 
see how we can standardize subdivisions since conditions 
differ in different cities as well as during different periods 
of time in each locality. The justification for the exist- 
ence of the town planner as a professional man lies in the 
fact that circumstances vary to such an extent in regard 
to all these matters that every scheme of land development 
for building purposes should be considered on its merits. 
One of the proposals of town planners is that there should 
be a zoning system for factories and residences ; the depth 
of subdivisions in factory districts must be determined on 
quite different principles from those which have to be fixed 
in a residential district. If we have to fix a minimum, it 
should not be less than 125 feet, but in residential neighbor- 
hoods in the suburbs of towns it should be 150 to 200 feet. 

With regard to the question of erecting buildings on the 
rear parts of lots, it is obvious that that is a matter which 
should be regulated by fixing the proportion of lots to be 
built upon and requiring separate street access to each 
building. If we did that, it would not be necessary to limit 
the depths of lots as a means of preventing rear buildings 
being erected. It might be that in exceptional cases the 



town planner should advise the construction of an extra 
street and the use of land in rear lots for building purposes, 
but except under a properly considered scheme for remod- 
eling a developed area according to strict hygienic prin- 
ciples, there should be a bar against building on rear lots. 
The proportion of a lot to be built upon should be deter- 
mined and rigidly adhered to in general cases. 

In considering the British schemes to which one speaker 
has made reference, it has to be remembered that one 
of the aims of the promoters of the garden villages of 
England is to secure greater spaciousness around the 
homes of the people without extra cost for development 
being incurred. In other words, the cost of constructing 
local improvements is sought to be reduced by these schemes 
sufficiently to cover the extra cost of the larger area of 
land given to each house. That is a matter of laying out 
the land on intelligent principles and not allowing it to 
be developed on hard and fast rules. We have to adjust 
our schemes to economic conditions and accomplish the best 
possible results amidst circumstances which can never be 
ideal. We have also to adjust differences between those 
who represent public and those who possess private inter- 
ests. These are matters which can never be satisfactorily 
governed by general by-law. They require the exercise 
of discretion, intelligence and skill to deal with them, and 
that is precisely the reason why a town planner is so much 
needed as a guide in connection with all kinds of city de- 
velopment. To fix a minimum nearly always means to 
create a standard, and if this conference makes a definite 
recommendation on the subject of depths of subdivisions, 
it is certain that the recommendation will be abused by 
those who want to use it to further some schemes of an 
undesirable character. The information that has been 
collected will be of great value as a guide to town plan- 
ners, but it will be a mistake to make definite recommenda- 
tions. At any rate it seems desirable that the studies 
should be continued for another year. 



Mr. John Ihlder, New York: 

Unlike some of our British friends, as Mr. Adams, who 
can see nothing good in German city planning and housing, 
I believe that we Americans can find much that is good in 
English. Mr. Adams has spoken of the English practice of 
limiting the number of houses per acre. I believe that a 
good lead for us. But it must be remembered that in the 
residence districts of many of our cities the present prac- 
tice is to build a considerably smaller number of houses 
per acre than the English standard — ten or twelve. As 
Mr. Adams himself says, there is the danger here of per- 
suading people to accept a lower standard than they other- 
wise would. This, however, is a danger inherent in setting 
minimum standards. So we must be sure always to state 
that they are minimum and that really good building will 
not come down to them. The great value of such a mini- 
mum standard for the number of houses per acre is likely 
to appear, not in the first platting and building, but later 
when it is sought to thrust new houses among the old. 

But valuable as this limitation of number of houses per 
acre may prove, it must be supplemented by the American 
practice of requiring a definite minimum number of feet 
of open space adjacent to every wall containing openings 
to light or ventilate the house. In Ruislip-Northwood, 
one of the most successful English developments under 
the provisions of the Housing and Town Planning, etc., 
Act of 1909, we found a group of houses on narrow, deep 
lots which complied with the twelve to the acre limitation, 
but which were only six feet apart. This is not adequate. 

There is one further point we Americans must bear in 
mind. When the English speak of twelve houses per acre, 
they mean the dwellings of twelve families. A two family 
house counts as two houses, a twelve family tenement — if 
they had such a thing — would count as twelve houses 
and so call for a whole acre to itself. Of course without 
such an understanding of terms the limitation would be 
meaningless — consider twelve-family houses per acre ! 



To go back to lot sizes. Some of the speakers have im- 
plied that there is a desire on the part of others to work 
out a single lot size which shall be universally applied. 
This they have vigorously condemned. But that is not 
my understanding of our purpose. May we not, by be- 
ginning with the size and number of rooms in houses de- 
signed for tenants of varying economic status, by studying 
the different types of houses, one, two and more families, 
detached, semi-detached, group and row, find a basis for 
certain general principles or even arrive at a fairly definite 
idea of the most practical lot width and depth in an area 
which is likely to undergo the usual transformations? 
There should be left as much liberty as possible of course, 
but the fact that we must lay out permanent streets the 
distance between which will represent the combined depth 
of lots fronting on the two streets makes impossible such 
complete liberty as Mr. Lewis advocates. So we must 
come to some conclusion as to the best lot depths at 

Me. Allen B. Pond, Chicago: 

I was greatly interested in the remarks of Mr. Lewis. 
They brought once more clearly to mind what we are all 
prone to forget — the danger of generalizing on a too 
slender foundation of local conditions. Mr. Lewis em- 
phasized the tendency in New York to split the wider 
lots into materially narrower lots, running from 13 feet 
up, and gave that as a reason why it was quite unim- 
portant to pay attention to the matter of lot subdivision 
in laying out towns or additions to towns. In Chicago, 
ouside of the central district and a few very high class 
residential districts, the average lot size has for many 
years been 25 feet in width and approximately 125 feet 
in depth. One could almost count on one's hands the 
number of instances in Chicago in which such lots or 
combination of such lots had been resubdivided into the 
narrower lots described by Mr. Lewis. The average small 



residential building in Chicago is either a single family 
house or a two or three family house built on the 25 foot 
lot, and the tendency today is to build two or three family 
houses on the 25 foot lot ; and a result of this condition is 
that in every attempt in recent years to revise the building 
ordinances so as to give a greater width to side line courts, 
which are of the utmost importance in houses more than 
two rooms deep — and the Chicago buildings above re- 
ferred to are three and more rooms deep — the effort has 
been fought by real estate dealers, subdividers of property 
and small owners on the ground that it was impossible to 
use to advantage for two and three family buildings the 
standard 25 foot lot with a side court as wide as all the 
health experts insisted was necessary for proper hygiene. 
And the result of this situation is today that the prescribed 
minimum side line court is too narrow. 

The more intelligent subdividers are beginning to make 
30 feet and upwards their standard width, but we are still 
seriously handicapped by the enormous number of 25 feet 
subdivisions. I do not say that it is desirable that there 
should be legislation fixing in any community the minimum 
lot subdivision, either as to width or depth, but I insist 
that it is highly desirable that in every community there be 
established by custom if not by legislation, and that such 
custom be bulwarked in strong expert opinion, a minimum 
width and possibly a minimum depth. Obviously such a 
restriction, whether in the form of legislation or in the 
form of custom growing out of expert opinion, must differ 
with the varying conditions in the different communities, 
and we must not allow ourselves to lay down general prin- 
ciples deduced from ultraurban conditions in one part of 
the country to conditions urban and suburban in other 
parts of the country, for such generalizations will be cer- 
tain to do harm. 

Mr. Ford rightly pointed out the bearing of the question 
of the use and occupancy upon the question of lot dimen- 
sions. Obviously, if a community adopts a zone system 



and differentiates areas by type of occupancy and func- 
tion, the problem is enormously simplified. Until such 
time as we in America undertake to differentiate areas 
by occupancy and function we can perhaps avoid some 
of the difficulties pointed out by Mr. Ford by abandoning 
the back alley. Mr. Ford and others have made the 
comment that the shallow lot does not lend itself readily 
to a conversion from residential function to manufacturing 
and commercial function and that a reasonable degree of 
convertibility should be held in mind in making subdivisions 
in city planning generally. 

History in the West seems to show that public service 
functions, whether operated by the city or by private cor- 
poration, make more and more use of alleys. This, added 
to the fact that the American has the bad habit of assum- 
ing that whatever is and has been is sacred and that once 
an alley always an alley, has the result of placing in the 
alleys permanent conduits for public service uses, with 
the result that the vacation of the alleys becomes difficult 
or almost impossible. The abandonment in advance of the 
alley scheme makes it possible to convert shallow resi- 
dential lots contiguous at the rear into industrial and 
commercial property of suitable depth by the easy process 
of going through from street to street. In other words, 
it is not impracticable to subdivide into lots of great width 
and lesser depth — practicable from the standpoint of 
shape for the building of houses and tenements two rooms 
deep, and at the same time convertible into property suit- 
able for business purposes by the combining of lots on 
two streets in one ownership or under one lease. 

Mr. E. C. Mershon, Saginaw, Mich.: 

In this discussion of the best methods of land subdivision 
and the recommendation as to the adoption of a minimum 
standard depth and width of lot, I think it is lost sight of 
that usually in the original subdivision of land the pur- 
pose is to provide a lot suitable in every way to the de- 



tached house. In studying the housing problem in connec- 
tion with city planning, those best informed, I believe, 
are a unit in the opinion that the ideal living conditions 
are those provided in the detached dwelling with space 
on both sides of the house, room in front of the house 
for flower gardens or lawn, and room in the rear for 
plenty of air space and a garden if desired. 

Thus the best land subdivision would be the size of lot 
usually provided in the suburb, approximately 60 feet by 
120 more or less. 

Those who have urged against the shallow lot and who 
demand 100 feet as the minimum depth of a lot undoubtedly 
have the above conditions in mind. But if any one thing 
has been shown in these various conferences, it is that a 
city planned originally with deep lots brings about con- 
ditions such as have been illustrated time and again on the 
blackboard at these conferences and by blue prints hung 
on our walls ; and that the worst conditions existing in our 
cities, which breed slums and disease, are those brought 
about by the large block containing deep lots. Every single 
instance which has been held up as a " terrible example " 
has depicted such a block and illustrated the evil of the 
deep lot. 

The solution in my opinion is to allow, as you will have 
to, the deep lot in our suburbs, but for the city to retain 
the authority or to acquire the authority of replatting 
the objectionable blocks, cutting down the deep lot to 
one half of its original depth, making the lots from 50 
to 60 feet in depth, thus leaving in the center of the block 
a large airy court under public control which can be used 
for playgrounds, for the parking of automobiles, for 
public baths, for allotment gardens, for pubic laundries, 
for the administration of so-called settlement work, in- 
cluding necessary administration buildings, dispensaries, 
social quarters and the thousand and one purposes for 
which cheap real estate is required. Open up these courts 
to the streets so that the passer-by can see that they main- 

[ 104] 


tain the same attractive conditions that our streets, park- 
ways, playgrounds, etc., do. 

Charles W. Leavitt, New York: 

In all of the discussion on the subject of the subdivision 
of land which has taken place at this conference there are 
several points which have not been touched upon and 
which, from my experience of some twenty years, during 
which I have been actually engaged in land subdivision in 
many parts of the United States and Canada, I have found 
to be quite essential. 

The first of these is the importance of existing condi- 
tions, by which I mean the peculiarities of the soil, whether 
it is sandy, open and well drained, such as that on Long 
Island, or heavy and silty, hard to drain, such as that 
found in the state of Louisiana; whether the land is subject 
to smoke blown from factories or other activities in the 
city ; whether it is free from the soot nuisance. 

Second, the kind and the height of the buildings which 
must be built on the land ; whether they are to have masonry 
walls or are to be built as we find them in the tropics, with 
the walls of louvers; whether they are to be ornate or 
matter of fact business structures. 

Third, general exposure; whether the property faces 
north, south, east or west; whether it is subject to preva- 
lent winds or is on the leeward side of a hill or mountain; 
whether the elevation is high and exhilarating or whether 
it is on the seaboard. 

Fourth, the width of streets. Do the conditions warrant 
wide, open streets, as one might find at Colorado Springs, 
giving easy access for plenty of air and ventilation, or 
must the work be done on narrow cross streets, as one finds 
around Baltimore, Philadelphia and some of the environs 
of New York City and Boston? 

Fifth, climate. Is the subdivision to be made in Winni- 
peg, Man. ; Montreal, Que. ; Toronto, Ont. ; San Francisco, 
Cal. ; Duluth, Minn.; New York City; Venice, Italy; New 



Orleans, La. ; Birmingham, Ala. ; Atlanta, Ga. ; Tampa, 
Fla., or Kingston, Jamaica? In all of these places I have 
been familiar with the problem of the subdivision of land, 
and the range of climate in Manitoba, from 100° in sum- 
mer to 60° below zero in winter, certainly demands a 
very different layout than that in Kingston, where the 
thermometer is about 90° the year round, with very high 
humidity, in contrast to that of Manitoba, which has 
almost none. 

Sixth, local demand. We find that the American de- 
mands more room than the Italian, that the French and 
English want more than the German, that the working 
classes are satisfied with buildings huddled together and 
that the wealthy classes run to great extremes in this 
particular, from small rooms in crowded hotels to enormous 
country estates. The actual local demand of each particu- 
lar street should be taken into consideration in planning 
the lots on that street. 

While standards may be fixed as to size of lots, say 20 
by 80, 40 by 100, 75 by 150, 100 by 200, 200 by 400, 
or what you will, in each case I think that in this, as in 
other considerations, the worker must be guided in each 
instance by the several points which I have mentioned 
above, and standards, if they are to be fixed, must be 
based on such a schedule that not only these points but 
many others which have been discussed in this conference 
will receive due attention. The whole matter is involved, 
and it is only after years of study of many conditions 
that anyone can hope to be able to acquire the knowledge 
to subdivide intelligently and make the land valuable for 
future as well as present use. 



Frederick L. Ackerman 

Member American Institute of Architects, New York City 

I am requested to speak to you upon the topic : The Ar- 
chitectural Side of City Planning. Now I wonder what these 
terms signify to each of us. I do not know exactly what 
they mean to you. I know that these terms have for each 
of us a certain definite meaning which is shaded by our 
experiences; and our individual conceptions range from 
ideas quite similar in their nature to those approaching the 
opposite in meaning. I make no attempt to define the 
terms " architecture " and " city planning," nor do I ask 
that you accept the interpretation which I wish to give to 
them. I simply wish to surround each with a group of as- 
sociate ideas so that there may be established a better un- 
derstanding between us. 

The term " architecture " in connection with city plan- 
ning brings to the minds of most of us visions of well or- 
dered cities containing elements of beauty, things monu- 
mental in character, things decorative. Our group of asso- 
ciated ideas is limited by our experience. We differentiate 
for example between engineering and architectural con- 
ceptions in a very curious way. I do not wish to quibble 
over these terms. A mere definition is of no consequence. 
All that I desire to express is that I shall use the term 
" architecture " in a broader sense than is our custom. I 
shall use it as an all inclusive term embracing both the 
utilitarian and the esthetic in our physical environment. 

Likewise, for a better mutual understanding, let me 
surround the term " city planning " with a number of 



associate ideas. As I conceive the term, city planning is 
not a series of legislative acts, as so many assume, impos- 
ing upon a people a set of conditions to which their lives 
must be warped into conformity ; it is not merely the carry- 
ing out of certain theories developed by city planning en- 
gineers, and by students of social and economic conditions 
or of the ideals of the architect. It is not merely the pro- 
viding for adequate transportation, proper sanitation, bet- 
ter housing or more beautiful surroundings. It is more 
than all of these. City planning is the act of providing a 
more adequate physical expression for the composite ideals 
of groups of people thrown together by social and economic 
forces in our communities. 

Our composite thought, our culture, is expressed in our 
physical environment through many subtle forces and in- 
fluences, both conscious and unconscious. City planning is 
not a substitute for these forces ; it is rather a conscious 
effort to transform our vague ideals of community living 
into forms which will accurately express such ideals. 

So much for the general meaning of the terms. I shall 
not attempt here to discuss merely the esthetic side of the 
subject, nor the value of such. I believe most of us have 
developed beyond the point where it is first necessary that 
the economic value of beauty be established before its worth 
may be considered. I believe also that most of us recog- 
nize in art that there is a set of values quite apart from 
any measured by a monetary scale. I shall confine my 
remarks to the broader phase of architectural expression 
as already suggested and shall consider the causes which 
have to do with the character of physical environment. 

We all recognize the compound temperamental traits, 
moral attitudes, artistic styles, literary values, customs, 
manners, which make the various nations so strikingly dif- 
ferent one from another. Through an interweaving of 
sociological and physical causes too complex to unravel, 
national cultures have grown up side by side upon every 
continent. Some subtle influence stamps everything from 



look of town and countryside to personality of the indi- 
vidual with a peculiar quality. A New England village is 
a New England village. A Western town is a town with a 
design and a personality of its own. 

Now the expression of all the subtle, complex influences 
makes itself manifest to us, to a very great degree, through 
our sense of sight and the inert medium of materials. Nat- 
ural conditions, such as geographical location and climate, 
exert influences ; but in the main, human agencies work the 
transformations and make things expressive of ideas. 
When the expression is phrased in certain forms, it is called 
" engineering," " architecture," " art." 

The term " art " to the American mind suggests a very 
limited group of associate ideas. For the great part, such 
ideas relate to ages past and to other peoples. We assume 
" art " as being synonomous with " beauty " — a non- 
essential quality — an expression in no wise intimately 
related to the conditions surrounding our bread and but- 
ter existence. 

The term should be interpreted in a broader sense, for 
it is alone through some sort of creative impulse that every 
subtle phase and variation of a people's composite nature 
finds an accurate expression. 

Does sculpture or painting, or do the " works of art " 
or even the " monuments of architecture " or our " great 
feats of engineering " completely and adequately reveal 
the story of a civilization? Is it not also in the more 
prosaic forms of expression that we find the story told with 
equal accuracy and by the use of terms of more intimate 
appeal? Our rural homes, our villages, our cities — all 
that they contain, the good, the bad, the beautiful and the 
ugly, tell the true story — reveal the secrets. Into the 
great physical composite has been wrought, for the greater 
part by the unguided hand, all of our hopes, our aspira- 
tions and our fears. It is this physical composite which 
constitutes the real, vital art of a people. It is not the 
degree of attainment in a single phase alone which should 



serve as the basis of a true valuation; but rather it is the 
degree of attainment and the co-relation of all. With this 
broad interpretation of the term " art " in mind, it may 
be assumed that art is not so much an expression of a peo- 
ple's concept of beauty as it is a physical expression of 
their composite ideas, or in other words, their culture. 

A language, to be universal must be composed of sounds 
representing exactly the same associate ideas. So it is 
with art. Beauty is not a quality of universal appeal, 
for the basis of valuation depends upon a group of asso- 
ciate ideas rather than upon an intrinsic quality in beauty. 

Ideas are expressed through forms, lines and colors in 
art in the same way that ideas are expressed in language 
by sound. We are responsive; we understand in exactly 
the degree that the forms, lines or colors represent or de- 
fine ideas which we possess. We speak lightly of a " uni- 
versal art"; that does not now nor will it ever exist until 
there shall have been a complete standardization of ideas — 
or cultures. There are in art expressions a certain few 
elements or phases of more or less universal appeal ; to that 
extent is art universal. 

We possess a group of ideas or conceptions which differ 
in a fundamental way from those of Europe, both past and 
present. The foundation of our government rests not 
upon the principle that " Might makes Right," nor upon 
the principle known as the " Survival of the Fittest," but 
rather upon another theory known as that of " mutual de- 
pendence." It is this latter principle, recognized first by 
individuals, which led men to abandon their body arms, to 
discard the moat and drawbridge, to destroy the walls of 
their cities and therefor to substitute parks and rural 

The last quarter century in America, in Europe, and at 
the points where the great nations of Asia have come in 
contact with the rest of the world, has witnessed a chaotic 
condition of thought. Literature, art, and the processes of 
government illustrate this fact. In America, and particu- 



larly in Europe, is this true. In Europe it is the old 
against the new. In America it is the new endeavoring to 
express itself through vocabularies and forms not only old 
but foreign as well. Not only in the lives of individuals, 
as witnessed by our many societies working for better social 
and economic conditions, but in our governmental institu- 
tions do we express an acceptance of the theory of mutual 

We have not as yet developed the political mechanism 
of democratic government ; the present appears principally 
as a conflict of interests. Yet it seems to me that inter- 
woven in the fabric of our complex social structure there is 
a definite tendency, so positive in its nature that it can 
well be termed an ideal. The deeper channels of our 
thought spring from a source, our conception of democracy, 
which is as clear and as well defined as were the sources 
of inspiration which evolved the great civilizations and 
their architecture of the past. In our effort toward self 
expression we have been adapting the institutions to the 
past and in the same way we have endeavored to find an 
adequate physical expression through the use of old forms, 
at best possessing but a very limited number of elements of 
universal appeal. 

We speak of our cities as being " typically American " — 
suggesting that they are adequately expressive of our day 
and of our people. Superficially this may be true, but if 
one looks more deeply into their structure, he finds that 
they fall far short of being adequately expressive. 

A structural element, the steel frame, came into existence 
but a generation ago; it gave to an individual a power un- 
dreamed of before. The old balanced relations of rights 
and privileges in the ownership of property were completely 
upset; this element had for an individual a power which 
made it possible for him to turn his " rights," under the old 
conditions, into acts detrimental to his neighbors. More 
than that — the old conditions regarding light and air 
were based upon an evolution of the idea of " mutual de- 



pendence." Suddenly the whole scheme of relations was 
changed by the multiplication of ground areas ; and the 
previous provision for light within the block, established 
by tradition and law, was made absolutely inadequate. In- 
dividual owners of property, clinging to the traditional re- 
lations, asserted themselves against any new laws which 
would make proper provision for light and air, not because 
they had ceased to believe in the necessity for the same, 
but rather and solely because they did not understand that 
changed structural conditions had developed an entirely 
new set of relations between individual owners of property. 
They assumed that the city block could be developed plot 
by plot; and that the idea of voluntary cooperation and 
economic laws would solve the problem. They did not real- 
ize that voluntary cooperation is an impossibility in such 
cases ; nor that the laws and ordinances restraining the in- 
dividual were not a set of restrictions but rather simple 
acts insuring the principle of cooperation in building. 

Our physical surroundings result from both a conscious 
and an unconscious effort. Forces, agencies and ideals 
go into the crucible of human endeavor and the product is 
that which we see and feel about us. 

The impulse urging on the inventor or the man of science 
may be well defined; the reasons for, the object to be at- 
tained by, and the ultimate effect of the effort may be per- 
fectly clear, yet the first attempts in the search for an 
adequate physical expression are always crude. These 
initial, halting steps must of a necessity be taken. Man 
must have something tangible with which to work. He is 
blind to the errors of his reasoning until those errors con- 
front him as forms which he can see and feel. 

So it is with a people. They likewise are urged on by 
many complex impulses toward a definite goal; and as with 
the inventor, if those impulses are to become other than 
mere aspirations, there must be provided a series of tangible 
forms to serve as the initial stepping stones of progress ; 
these first crude attempts, inadequate though they may be, 



are absolutely necessary, for it is alone through the strug- 
gle for a proper and an adequate expression and the par- 
tial successes that the ideal behind an impulse can be kept 
alive. It is thus that the evolution of a people is insured 
and augmented. 

It is not of value here to discuss the agencies through 
which other peoples have expressed their composite natures. 
Our concern is with the agencies in our democracy through 
which our peculiar culture may find an adequate expression. 

If it be true that we have a definite ideal which we 
have failed to adequately express in our institutions and in 
our physical surroundings ; if it also be true that progress 
or evolution can only result from a series of tangible ex- 
pressions of our aspirations or our ideals; then the ques- 
tion arises: What are the elements lacking and how can 
they be supplied? 

Without attempting an analysis of this complex ques- 
tion, I shall assume as a premise that education is the 
foundation upon which we must build, and also that the 
educational methods of the present day do not provide a 
proper foundation. Not until we shall have abandoned 
our system of " puzzle education " in our schools and in- 
troduced a system based upon some such educational philos- 
ophy, for example, as advocated by Dr. John Dewey and 
as carried out by Mr. Wirt in the schools of Gary, Ind., 
can we hope to provide conditions of the present day which 
will have a very direct relation to ourselves as individuals. 
The motive for study must be a knowledge of its value; 
the knowledge of a need must precede the process of supply- 
ing the need. Our whole educational policy has been a 
sort of memorizing process ; few elements in it have been 
related to the world of today. Our institutions and our 
physical surroundings are accepted as being the result of 
natural laws and in themselves quite unrelated to ourselves. 
Our schools consider things in the abstract only; the ap- 
plication is left to chance. This curious process — for 
it is a process and little else — has led us to accept as a 



matter of course the most stupid physical arrangements 
in our cities, our villages and our rural homes. 

In a book, " A Civic Biology," by Mr. George W. Hun- 
ter there is presented a method of teaching which is most 
suggestive. The chapter on " Man's Improvement of his 
Environment " indicates in a very specific way the possi- 
bilities of presenting the subject of physical surroundings, 
architecture and art to pupils whose previous experience 
had not provided them with even the most primary concepts 
concerning such things. This chapter in itself has little 
directly to do with architecture; it considers methods of 
improving sanitary conditions and subjects of a similar 
nature. It would be a simple matter indeed to extend the 
scope and include a group of subjects which would awaken 
in the minds of the pupils a keen interest in other phases 
of their physical environment of equal interest and im- 
portance. The beginning of the chapter states that its 
purpose is " to show how we as individuals may better our 
home environments, and secondly how we may aid civic 
authorities in bettering the conditions in the city in which 
we live." The few phases of this subject touched upon in 
this chapter cannot fail to awaken a keen interest, but it 
leaves quite untouched the larger group of ideas upon 
which town planning rests. This is too complex a subject 
to discuss in detail here, but I can see the possibility and I 
entertain the hope that someone will complete that chapter, 
adding the ideas which will make it clear to the child that 
there are things of interest for him to consider in our 
towns and our cities which are of vital interest to his 
comfort and his well being and which incidentally have to 
do with architecture and art. 

All this may seem like a Utopian dream. Why should 
it? In the public schools of New Jersey, under the direc- 
tion of Mr. Dana, city planning is being taught, together 
with other subjects of a similar nature. Leaflet No. 23, 
issued by the superintendent of the public schools of New- 
ark, illustrates the scope and nature of the work. The 



subject is made interesting and personal through the use 
of a local application of general principles. The child is 
induced to see that his physical surroundings are not, in 
many cases, adequate, and he is shown how few changes 
would be required to make them right. The esthetic phase 
of the subject appears as a resultant, and a more accurate 
valuation is given to the many elements which constitute our 
physical environment. 

Upon the walls of our schoolhouses we hang only the 
most noble examples of the art and architecture of the past ; 
we conjure up theories of how the elements of beauty therein 
contained will somehow elevate the taste of the child from 
the farm or the crowded spaces within our cities. I doubt 
whether they do anything of the kind. Under certain con- 
ditions, when used as Dr. Haney uses them in his art teach- 
ing in the public schools of New York, they become of 
value and an inspiration, but as used at present in most 
schools they are almost as inert as the plaster walls upon 
which they hang ; they do not contain elements at all related 
to the child's life. It would be possible by induction, 
through the methods suggested by Dr. Dewey, and by start- 
ing with simple physical illustrations most intimately 
related to the child's life, to build up a sympathetic under- 
standing of the meaning of simple forms and by comparison 
to create a definite ideal of such a nature that when the 
child went out into the world things would possess a new 
meaning, and that meaning would be expressed in terms of 
present day human interest. 

It is quite possible through methods of suggestion to 
create in the minds of the children in urban and rural schools 
a definite ideal of adequate physical environment. If we 
were to select from the best examples the world has pro- 
duced photographs and slides illustrative of adequate physi- 
cal conditions of a simple, intimate nature, and see to it 
that the children were made acquainted with such ideas, 
there would be developed not only a higher ideal, but there 
would also be provided a very definite conception of the 



thing which would express that ideal. If in these illustra- 
tive examples there were elements of beauty, then beauty 
would become intimately related to life. 

In our universities of higher education, with students 
thus provided with an educational background, relating 
forms to living conditions, it would be possible to extend the 
teaching. Instead of filling the mind with a mass of facts 
and formulas quite abstract in their nature, again we might 
by inductive methods and suggestion show how it is that 
the physical expression of community life results from a 
multitude of social and community functions ; that political 
methods and processes are the channels through which the 
community expresses itself in its institutions and in its 
physical aspects. 

If we could demonstrate to the student that his ideal of 
liberty, when expressed in terms of community life, means 
a subordination of self-interest; that it is alone through 
the acceptance of such an idea that he who lives in a com- 
munity can actually possess in the concrete that liberty 
which he assumes the Constitution to give him; if we can 
give up a sufficient number of our theorems and our formu- 
las to find time for such things, then we shall have estab- 
lished the solid foundation upon which city planning must 
stand if it is to be other than an empty phrase. Why not 
teach, by illustrated lectures in our universities, the sub- 
ject of town planning? Why not relate the student's ab- 
stract notions of life and the vague ideas he holds to things 
of actuality? Why not arouse his interest in the processes 
of government by relating them to the things of a physical 
nature which he can see and feel? Again would the beauty 
of the thing assume a new meaning, and art and architecture 
would become a vital thing related to life. 

In the same way in our schools of architecture we have 
failed to relate the teaching to the forces of our day. We 
teach the resultant expression of past ideals and past cul- 
tures. By some method similar to those already suggested 
we must add to the training of the architect something 



which will force upon him the fact that it is not alone 
through his efforts that a modern architecture may be de- 
veloped, but rather that he shall be the medium through 
which the forces shall be accurately expressed. 

Our architectural schools have developed a splendid sys- 
tem of logical thought in regard to the subject of plan. 
All that is lacking is that it should be made more intimate 
to our present day conditions and we should force home to 
the architectural student the fact that our communities 
are primarily social rather than physical structures. 

The training of the architect as it is now carried on has 
to do primarily with adequacy. Notwithstanding the 
criticisms directed at our schools, which criticisms result 
from the nature of the materials presented in our school 
exhibitions, there is clearly to be observed a very serious 
attempt, in the study of plan arrangement, to make form 
follow function in a logical way. Most of the time spent 
in study is devoted to the work of reasoning from a 
premise — the program — and the object of that reason- 
ing is to find an adequate physical envelope for a set of 
stated conditions. 

For us to assume that the school can evolve a new art, 
that it can bring about the evolution of new forms, or for 
us to further assume that it is the architect who can evolve 
for us a modern architecture is absurd. Architecture is 
not alone for the school, the university, the office or the 
studio; it is the resultant of endless varying impulses act- 
ing through those who design and those who fabricate. 

I will say but a word regarding the function of the archi- 
tect in the work of developing our cities. The work of the 
architect of today is complex indeed; the greater part of 
his effort centers about single problems, but the principles 
which he applies to their solution are subject to the broad- 
est application. He is a coordinator of many things, and 
his constant study of bringing things into harmony and 
proper arrangement enables him to render a service in 
the field of city planning which no other individual is 



now trained to render. To him in many cases facts and 
figures are not necessary. A sort of intuitive judgment in 
the application of the principles of planning enables him 
to vision rather than to calculate the forms which will ade- 
quately express. 

If the architect is to render the greatest possible service 
in the work of city planning, two things are of fundamental 
importance: he must assume the great responsibility im- 
posed upon him by his training, his knowledge and his citi- 
zenship. It is also of equal importance that his ability 
and his fitness to perform certain functions be recognized 
and given a proper valuation. His point of view must be 
recognized in the development of the program and some- 
thing of his visions must be included in the solution of the 
problem. As I view the situation from the standpoint of 
the architect, the object is to provide an adequate and a 
proper envelope for a set of reasonable conditions rather 
than to require of him, as we do now, that he attempt to 
render pleasing a set of conditions the very nature of which 
prohibits absolutely such a possibility. 

It was but a few years ago that we recognized the serious 
state of affairs existing within our cities, and when we first 
endeavored to call them to the attention of the people, we 
turned for our inspiration to the cities of Europe. We 
were rather hasty in our choice of material by which we 
hoped to arouse an interest in the work of city planning, 
and we selected elements related to the esthetic side of city 
planning in the hope that these would awaken a general in- 
terest in the more serious side of the subject. Our first 
appeal was expressed in the advocacy of the " City Beauti- 
ful." In this we failed. The people had not developed to 
a point where such considerations seemed pertinent, nor did 
this phase appear to them to have anything whatever to do 
with their more fundamental ideals concerning living con- 
ditions. That the esthetic had a definite economic value 
in a community was not easily demonstrated, for the simple 
reason that the mind was working along other directions. 



A little later, however, when we had gone into the subject 
more deeply and when we approached the problem from the 
standpoint of social and economic values, considering such 
subjects as housing, sanitation, congestion, etc., there was 
a response. This response resulted not from the fact that 
the new proposition was more easily demonstrated, but 
rather from the fact that in our argument the people recog- 
nized that there was an intimate relation between our effort 
and their ideals of individual rights and liberty and ade- 
quate physical environment. 

I recognize that I have offered little of a definite nature 
concerning the architectural side of city planning which 
may be applied with immediate results. I have not dwelt 
upon the specific contributions of the architect which affect, 
in a material way, the physical aspect of our cities. I do 
not ignore that phase of city planning because I deem it 
of secondary importance; I simply pass it by because I 
recognize that the time is not yet ripe for such a discus- 
sion. The ugliness, the inadequacy of our surroundings 
are not due to viciousness of character or commercialism, 
as so many would have it, but to plain ignorance — a 
chaotic condition of thought which has set up a false 
standard of values. Our battle — and it is a battle which 
we must wage — is not so much against a definite or 
an established order of things as it is against chaos. Chaos 
is our problem. To go on in an endeavor to express 
chaos more adequately is about as futile in developing a 
better civic architecture as is the attempt to sound a bell 
in a vacuum. 

It is for this reason that I say that it is alone through 
the proper methods of education that we can hope in the 
future to realize our vision. We may struggle with the 
problems of the day, and through our effort we may slightly 
deflect the current of our chaotic progress. But we can- 
not hope that the generations which follow will find con- 
ditions much less chaotic, nor can we hope that they will 
find the task less difficult unless we follow the current of 



influence to the source and there establish an educational 
system which will develop such an interest in our physical 
environment that things will have an intimate relation to 
our lives. 

When we shall have accomplished this, then it will be 
possible for those who think in terms wherein utility and 
beauty are related as cause and effect to use a language 
in which the symbols of expression will not only have a 
universal meaning, but will also be related to the impulses 
of our lives. 



Arthur A. Stoughton 

Member American Institute of Architecture, Winnipeg, Man. 

For the last few years we have been so industrious in 
telling city officials and commissions that city planning does 
not mean the city beautiful that we have almost persuaded 
ourselves that this is true. We have been so much con- 
cerned with street widths and angles of light and building 
laws and subsurface structures and areas of courts that the 
opportunity to discuss beautiful architectural accessories 
of city planning comes to me as an agreeable surprise. 
This country is making rapid progress toward fulfilling the 
scientific requirements of our trade because so much planning 
is being done in the light of so much highly organized 
study. It is relatively easy to fix the width of streets and 
not impossible to tell how far apart to put them in a given 
case; the books will tell how to orient them and anyone 
can make a round point or traffic place. There are more 
and more instances of good street planning in this country 
because more new districts are being laid out here than else- 
where and we have plenty of competent men to do it, but 
such good work, with all its merits and its scientific accu- 
racy, leaves the man in the street cold. Only a city planner 
raves over a fine scheme on paper or made concrete only 
in walks and curbs and pavements, because he only can 
visualize its total effect in beauty which may never be fully 
realized. I have in mind a grand avenue recently con- 
structed in upper New York, 250 feet wide, with all the 
potentiality of an Avenue des Champs-Elysees, which 
should have been lined with fine residences, but on which 



the high property values created justifies nothing short of 
tenement houses. It is the total effect in beauty which we 
are to consider briefly. 

City planning, being so comprehensive, cannot consider 
its duty discharged until its street system is given its proper 
natural and architectural setting or background, is fur- 
nished with the necessary fixtures conceived in an artistic 
spirit and is enriched with objects of sentiment and beauty 
for the enjoyment of all, such as those the old-world peo- 
ples have always loved to place in their streets and open 
spaces. What would the streets of most European cities 
be, fine as their buildings are, lacking the fountains and 
statues and columns, the commemorative tablets and monu- 
ments, which speak in various language to the passer-by 
of patriotism and glory and history of science and art, of 
the things of the mind, of local pride, of aspirations and 
moral values, of humor and gayety, of religious faith and 
of life and death, running the gamut of the emotions, ap- 
pealing to every sentiment and stirring thoughts in every 
cranny of the mind? We think of many towns only in 
terms of their ornamental features, which towns would be 
uninteresting and bare without them, like an unfurnished 
house. More than anything else, this furnishing of the 
streets with ob j ects making a varied appeal — the gathered 
mementos of the past, the artistic heritage of local and race 
history and achievement — gives a place a personality and 
an intimate and hospitable character. 

From earliest times it has been a most natural custom 
to decorate the highways and public places with memorials. 
Our minds run back to the avenues of sphinxes, the obelisks 
and the figures of men and animals, symbolizing the gods of 
Egypt. Among the Greeks and Romans the votive offer- 
ings, the religious figures, the effigies and war memorials 
and edicules of various kinds added greatly to the interest 
of the streets. The Romans were, par excellence, the 
decorators of the public place, their architecture supplying 
the finest setting possible in the noble colonnades and por- 



ticoes, tying all the separate features into a harmonious 
piece of decoration. The altars and rostra, the statues of 
emperors and gods, the columns and triumphal arches have 
each their part in the composition. The fine tradition was 
followed by the Italians of the Gothic period and of the 
Renaissance, whose spires and campanili and fountains 
added a different though no less decorative note. The en- 
richment of the street picture was not by any means pe- 
culiar to the sunny southern countries where the open air 
is natural, but northern places have held the same custom, 
and especially in modern times, with expanding resources, 
they have beautified the setting of their external life. In 
the smaller ones we have a fountain, a market cross, a 
wayside shrine, a figure of the local hero or the glorification 
of the signal event. In the larger ones we have an Arc 
de PEtoile, a Fontaine de l'Observatoire, a Pont Alexandre 
III, an Albert Memorial, a Thames Embankment, a Scott 
Memorial, a Sieges Allee, a Kaiser William I Monument, a 
Washington Monument, a Grant Monument, and the like, 
of too many species to mention even the types. 

In the logical development of a town come first the 
necessaries — the fixtures for lighting, the standards for 
carrying wires and signboards, mail and fire boxes, the re- 
ceptacles for waste, benches, shelters and waiting stations, 
drinking fountains for man and beast, kiosks for vending 
and advertising, public conveniences, entrances for subsur- 
face structures, bridges and elevated structures. All of 
these utilities must, of course, be treated decoratively so as 
to be agreeable in form and to harmonize in scale and char- 
acter with their surroundings. In many cases the original 
useful purpose is merged in the decorative, and certain of 
them, as fountains for instance, exist for the latter only. 
In the next class may be put such conveniences as ramps 
and steps, retaining walls, bridge approaches, and water- 
side constructions generally, city gateways, park enclosures, 
towers for beacons or bells, clocks and sundials, bandstands 
and pavilions, which present an even more natural appeal 



for artistic treatment. Then there are all the resources 
of nature, the plantation of mass and surface, the green 
of the tapis vert with the glow of the parterre, and the 
sparkle and tinkle of water. Then come the purely orna- 
mental features, in which art and sentiment join hands to 
add the highest touch of grace to the street picture, vary- 
ing in a wide range between the bowlder bearing an inscrip- 
tion and the triumphal arch or the many figured group. 
Finally, above all there is the embellishment by buildings, 
private or public, which line the streets or occupy open 
spaces and make or mar them. This phase of the subject 
is without the scope of this paper, but I may say that if 
buildings are to enter into the decorative scheme of the 
streets, they should at least be visible. It is sad to think 
how much of the possible effect of fine buildings is never 
realized on account of our long narrow streets and the 
rigid adherence to the rectangular block. For buildings 
as for monuments, a short vista gained by cutting off or 
turning a street or broadening it into a decorative place 
is necessary. I come from a place which glories in the 
possession of several fine avenues 132 feet wide, giving un- 
usual opportunities for architectural effect. One of them 
is notable as being the longest street in the world. But 
although running nearly straight for 875 miles, it turns 
as it crosses another principal avenue and is faced on the 
latter by a fine building by McKim, Mead & White, which 
therefore has its full effect. Perhaps I should add in 
another category those embellishments for which former 
times give no precedent, which are the most obtrusive and 
insistent of all and from which the most enlightened society 
has so far been unable to protect itself — the advertise- 
ments. I will say only that the state which finds a remedy 
for this outrageous evil which renders nugatory all beauty 
in our streets deserves a reward equal to that of the man 
who conquers cancer or typhoid. 

There are no rules for designing street features other 
than those applying to works of art in general. The book 



of suggestions is wide open and the aspect of foreign cities 
and towns. When we turn its pages we find an astonishing 
variety in the choice of motive, in treating and in placing. 
Every problem of treatment and adjustment has its own 
special conditions and its own best solution by which the 
object shall be related most agreeably to its purpose and 
sight and surroundings to give it individuality and dis- 
tinction. To j)ass about the grand boulevards and along 
the great east-and-west axis of Paris — one of our most 
common mental promenades — gives a most complete ex- 
position of the subject. We see the monument, isolated 
or adossed, the column and the obelisk, the architectural 
setting of sculpture, the group and the equestrian statue, 
the fountain and pool, the triumphal arch and the city 
gate, the decorative avenue leading up to a monument or 
building, open places of various sorts, the splendid building 
enhancing and being enhanced by its surroundings, the care- 
ful use of the green of nature, the color of flowers and the 
flow of water, the variety of effect of changing angles of 
view, the terraces and balustrades and ramps and bridges. 
Mr. Mawson has treated the subject so suggestively in his 
civic art that it would be traversing ground too well covered 
by him and too well known to you and for which the time 
fails to discuss details here. 

Our cities will scarcely put on the garment of beauty and 
wear it with an air of ease and accustomedness until our 
people gain that real culture which shows itself in the ap- 
preciation of the fitness of things. Now, even in places 
where objects of art are set up, we often see glaring and 
ridiculous contrasts, like a man in full dress with tan shoes 
or with dirty hands. I have in mind an example of this 
where, in one of the most fashionably frequented city 
squares in America, opposite one of our proudest hotels, 
there is an island decorated with a bronze lamp, specially 
designed, provided by an art association. The man who 
operated a switch near by had made himself comfortable 
by installing against this lamp a dilapidated rocking chair 



which was kept in countenance by a battery of street clean- 
ers' rubbish cans, brooms, etc., as a permanent furnishing 
of the spot. 

But without this culture and love of beauty for its own 
sake, and basing our plea on a lower plane, we should accom- 
plish something if we could convince the authorities of the 
money value of civic art. Just as many foreign products 
command a high price purely for the element of beauty 
of design in them, so a beautiful street or square or bridge 
or building or monument raises the value of real estate in the 
vicinity, while a city which as a whole is organized on attrac- 
tive lines draws people and business and enterprises to itself ; 
as its fame is carried far and wide by every chance visitor, 
and recoups itself directly and indirectly for the outlay 
many times over. Beauty as an asset convertible into real 
estate values and tax returns is recognized by most foreign 
cities, not yet sufficiently by ours. As soon as our people, 
who are rather fond of dollars, realize this they will, of 
course, hasten to invest in public art. 

We of this country are fortunate in that few monuments 
have been inflicted upon our cities, and that other fixtures 
are not of a very permanent nature. Sculpture has de- 
veloped as rapidly as architecture in the present generation, 
and we are now for the first time in a position to memori- 
alize great deeds and events by monuments that future gen- 
erations will not feel like removing to sequestered depths of 
the parks. Sunset Cox hailing a trolley car on Fourth 
Avenue, New York, will hardly have any replicas, to men- 
tion but one artless object set in high places. Despite the 
absence of art commissions in many places and of competent 
committees for the erection of memorials, much better work 
is being done by reason of the general elevation of intelli- 
gence which impels committees to seek expert advice in such 
matters, and because better talent is available. It is far 
better to leave our streets and parks bare of everything 
but the necessaries for a long time than to fill them with 
meretricious ornaments, debasing rather than elevating 



taste, setting a low standard preempting good sites, as it is 
practically impossible to dislodge them on the score of bad 
art once they have dug themselves in. It is well to proceed 
slowly. All cities and towns, large or small, should be 
urged to appoint art commissions or at least to secure 
competent advisers for special occasions, and all such ex- 
perts should be encouraged to do their whole duty in main- 
taining the highest standard in civic art. 

The placing of works of art with us is especially difficult 
on account of the paucity of good sites furnished by the 
gridiron plan, unmitigated by studied modifications or ac- 
cidental irregularities. Our street system reduces us to 
the necessity of placing our ornamental features, other than 
those in parks, against buildings or near them or along the 
edge of parks facing sidewalks, seen as we pass by, not as 
we approach along a vista. This may be well enough 
for small and minor objects, if we have enough of them 
to spare for inconspicuous places, but the wisdom of group- 
ing these things, whether they be few or many, is generally 
conceded. For larger schemes and formal arrangements 
the city planner must create sites and provide vistas for 
the architect and sculptor and the gardener to use. When 
we see the marvelous impressiveness and dignity of the 
Place de la Concorde or the Kaiser Wilhelm Platz, the dis- 
tinction each gives to a whole city, or the fine effect of many 
smaller squares which may be simply the widenings of the 
highway, artfully shaped and treated, it is strange that our 
new cities, while they are in the making, should not provide 
such advantages for the future. As traffic places or resting 
spots for pedestrians, or accents in a general effect, or 
opportunities for formal embellishment they would be in- 

Our planning, or our city growth without plan, has not 
taken into account the amenities of street life, the chance 
to pause in the mad rush to get a glimpse of nobler things 
than trolley cars; to get a new hold on common life by a 
suggestion of greatness from a monument or of grace from 



an object of art; to get the uplifting effect of a noble 
colonnade or tower seen at the end of a vista or to get a 
refreshment of mind from the greenness of ordered trees 
or sward. It has sought only to furnish the greatest num- 
ber of rectangular blocks. It is time for a new idea to re- 
place this one. The city planner and the monumentalist 
must cooperate in creating sites capable of a decorative 
setting and of furnishing them suitably, as time goes on, 
as places for the embodiment of the city's sentiments and 
ideals and taste and for the elevation and distinction of 
its life. Our inspiration is in the fountain of art ; our copy- 
book is the achievements of the past ; our teacher the artis- 
tic instinct of the ages. 



George B. Ford 

Chairman, Town Planning Committee of the American Institute of Architects 

The World's Fair in Chicago in 1893 was an object 
lesson to all who saw it of the wonderful possibilities of 
architectural grouping and setting. So deep was the im- 
pression that many on returning to their homes began 
wondering whether something of the same effect might not 
be secured in their own local public buildings. From this 
started the movement for " Civic Centers " which has been 
bearing fruit in so many of our cities. It is this movement 
that has given voice to the slogan, " The City Beautiful." 
As this work progressed people began to think, and the 
more broadly they thought about the development of their 
cities the more they came to feel that the " City Beautiful " 
alone was only a small part of the matter ; that rather the 
construction of all phases of the physical city should be 
considered as a unit; that the city should be so planned 
that its work and its play, that city living should be as 
safe, healthful, convenient and agreeable as proper planning 
could make it. Then a peculiar thing happened. The 
social and economic interest in city planning became so 
strong that the pendulum swung to the opposite extreme 
and soon almost no one dared mention the term " City 
Beautiful." People almost lost sight of the architectural 
side of city planning. They failed to appreciate that what 
is economically and socially good may be esthetically shock- 
ing; that the offense to the senses may more than outweigh 
the gain in well-being. 

Now the citizens are waking up to the fact that once a 


plan is satisfactory from the standpoint of business effi- 
ciency and social welfare, it need cost little if any more 
to make it pleasing to the eye as well. Many are feeling 
that oftentimes it is worth while to sacrifice a little of the 
other elements in order to gain in beauty. The pendulum 
is swinging back to the normal. Comprehensive, all-round 
city planning is arriving. 

Beauty is not something that is just applied after the 
plans are worked out. Beauty is more than skin deep. 
It must go back to the inception of the plan. At all stages 
beauty should be considered as well as utility. We can 
all understand utility, but while most of us appreciate 
beauty when we see it, few of us can analyze a pleasing 
effect and tell wherein its charm really lies. Architecture, 
or better civic design, as it is often called when speaking 
of civic architecture, is generally considered a rather mys- 
terious subject, a subject to be left for its creation to the 
initiated few. The existence of such a feeling is most un- 
fortunate. The sooner that illusion can be cleared away 
and the principles underlying good civic design are gen- 
erally understood, the more insistent and general, and there- 
fore the more effective, will become a popular demand for 
seemliness in our cities. To this end we will try to present 
the major principles of civic design, illustrating them from 
well-known examples. From the first we find that the only 
difference between architecture and civic design is one of 
degree and application. In both cases the eye is satisfied 
by the use of good taste in mass, proportion, placing of 
ornament, scale, appropriateness and the handling of color 
and materials. These are the same phases of design that 
run through all art, from the study of the setting for a 
jewel to the laying out of a great World's Fair group. 
For each kind of work the principles have their different 
technical application, but they themselves remain the same. 

For example, the Union Station in Washington is very 
good in mass ; the North Station in Boston is very bad. In 
the Washington station the great central portion with its 



three great arches, the lower side wings with their lower 
arches and columns and the great approach all hang to- 
gether in perfect unity. In the Boston station, however, 
the opposite is true. No two parts of the facade hang to- 
gether. The total effect is chaos. The mass is bad. 

Again, why is it that everyone is charmed by that per- 
fect architectural gem, the New York City Hall, and at 
the same time is left cold by the Post Office Building in 
front of it and by the Old Court House behind it? The 
City Hall could hardly be improved on in its proportions, 
while the proportions of the various motifs in the Court 
House and Post Office are crude and unprepossessing. 
Good proportions in the design of any civic structure mean 
that the eye will be satisfied and the prospect remembered 
with pleasure. 

The placing and distribution of details, their amount and 
kind are all important. The Pan-American Union Building 
in Washington is very happy in the disposition of details 
on its facade and in the arrangement of architectural fea- 
tures in its setting, such as the terraces, balustrades, steps, 
pedestals, etc. The same is true of the placing of archi- 
tectural and sculptural features in the approach to the 
library of Columbia University. A splendid opportunity 
for good civic decoration can be wasted by the erection of 
a monument so unhappy in the spotting of its details as that 
in the " Square " at Cleveland, Ohio. 

Scale is a highly technical matter and very hard to 
sense. A building or any civic structure is in scale when a 
man standing just in front of it appears to be man-size in 
relation to the structure. Most of the Gothic cathedrals 
of Europe are in excellent scale, but when you see a man 
in St. Peter's in Rome he appears like a pygmy. The 
building is too large in scale. All of the motifs and decora- 
tions are exaggerated to the verge of clumsiness. If the 
scale is too small, a structure is apt to appear trivial. If 
the scale is too large, it tends to become oppressive. 

The appropriateness of the design of a structure to its 


function is a matter on which everyone has his own views. 
Many question whether the heavy classic architectural 
treatment of the Pennsylvania Station in New York is 
peculiarly suited to the needs of the great modern terminal. 
There is a distinct demand for a monumental treatment in 
order to make it a worthy entrance to a great city, but it is 
a debatable point whether a more open treatment would 
not have given a greater sense of the movement of a city's 
crowds. On the other hand the modern factory building 
with its walls of glass, its construction strongly marked, 
its elimination of all superfluous features is the acme of ap- 
propriateness. Such crudeness of suitability to use would 
rarely do in civic structures, for these must represent all 
the dignity of the city government. A certain sacrifice of 
the useful to the monumental becomes part of appropriate- 
ness in civic design. 

Attention to the possibilities of texture of surface and 
of materials is something that we have not carried as far 
in America as they have in Europe. We have become used 
to the red pressed brick fagade with its rock faced granite 
trimmings and its painted iron cornice. Yet what a far 
cry from that to the beautiful texture and use of material 
in the Morgan Library in New York, in the Wisconsin 
State Capitol or in some of the recent suburban stations 
about New York, as in Yonkers, White Plains and along 
the West Chester and Boston Road. For the same cost, 
good taste in the use of material and in the texture of sur- 
faces can make a great difference in the appearance of a 

The recent use of color in architecture in our expositions, 
particularly in the wonderful color effects which are now 
to be seen at San Francisco, has opened our eyes to new 
possibilities in this field. We are afraid of color, especially 
in our civic architecture. We excuse ourselves by saying 
that it is undignified. The real reason is that we do not 
trust ourselves to use it. But in view of the present ease 
and cheapness with which colored terra cotta and colored 



cement can be made, I believe that our cities are not bound 
to remain much longer somber, drab and monotonous. The 
possibilities of the use of color are limitless and I prophesy 
an early demand to have our cities brightened up. 

In analyzing the principles of civic design, most of the 
examples I have used are architectural because so few good 
examples of civic design as such are available. The same 
principles apply, however, in both cases ; the same reasons 
exist in both cases for applying them. 

It is charm of appearance that makes us proud of our 
city. It is that which should justify us in spreading the 
tale, wherever we travel, of what a wonderful city it is. It 
is beauty of prospect and of buildings that first catches 
the stranger's eye and suggests to him the thought that it 
might be well to come and take up his lot with us. It is 
only after such a first impression that he begins to think 
seriously about the practical things that make up a city 
plan. We must have beauty too. The full expression of 
the best that is within us demands it. 

Mr. Ford's remarks were illustrated by the following 
slides : 

City gates, ancient arches: Paris, Porte St. Denis; 
Nancy, Place Stanislas. City gates, modern stations : New 
York, Pennsylvania Station; New York, Grand Central 
Station. City gates, water quays: Algiers, quay; Buda- 
pest, quay; Venice, quay; Hamburg, Alster Basin; Paris, 
quay; Vienna, canal portal; Chicago, river. City gates, 
water bridges: Bolton Bridge; Spuyten Duyvil, N. Y., 
bridge design disapproved; Spuyten Duyvil, N. Y., bridge 
design approved; Paris, Alexander III Bridge. Streets, 
within borders transit : overhead wires ; London, Strand, 
Isle of Safety; Edinburgh, Princes Street, poles; Vienna, 
Opera Ring, lighting standards. Streets, within borders 
transit: subway entrances; Paris, Elevated; Berlin, Ele- 
vated. Streets, borders, building effects : Innsbruck, window 
boxes ; Charlottenburg, party wall ; Diisseldorf , Tietz store. 



Streets, borders, formal setting: Paris, Rue de Rivoli; 
Paris, Champs-Elysees ; Paris, Avenue de POpera. Streets, 
borders, informal setting: Antwerp, looking toward cathe- 
dral; Oxford, High Street; Rothenburg, view; Rothen- 
burg, plan. Street planning, residential grouping: Co- 
logne, plan; Hellerau, view; Hampstead Garden, suburb 
plan; Hampstead Garden, suburb view of residence square; 
Hampstead Garden, suburb view of residence street ; Hamp- 
stead Garden, suburb view of business street ; Port Sunlight, 
view of Social Hall. Social and recreational grouping: 
West Orange, N. J., playground; model playground with 
school; Philadelphia, play center; St. Louis, social and 
civic center. Civic grouping, civic centers, plazas: Forest 
Hills Gardens, L. I., station plaza; Springfield, Mass., civic 
center; Denver, Col., civic center; Cleveland, Ohio, civic 
center, view toward Post Office; Brooklyn Plaza; Philadel- 
phia parkway, art center, view toward City Hall; Paris, 
Place de la Concorde; Rome, ancient forum; Rome, Vit- 
torio Emanuele Monument; Vienna, Ring Strasse, first 
plan; Vienna, Ring Strasse, present plan. General monu- 
mental city planning: Canberra, Australia, plan; Wash- 
ington, modified L'Enfant plan; Washington, bird's-eye 
view, east ; Washington, bird's-eye view west. 

[ 134 j 


Robert H. Whitten 

Secretary, City Planning Committee of Board of Estimate and Appointment, 
New York City 

At the last meeting of the National Conference on City 
Planning the executive committee appointed a Committee 
on Administrative Procedure, with Mr. Nelson P. Lewis 
as chairman. The committee decided to take up the general 
question of the constitution and powers of a city planning 
authority, and in order to secure a wide basis of experience 
for its work it caused a questionnaire to be prepared and 
sent out widely to individuals and city planning commissions. 
Eighty replies were received which show very careful con- 
sideration of the subject, and although it will be impossible 
even to abstract them, I think it will be important before 
opening the discussion to give a summary statement of the 
questions and of the replies. 1 

City planning involves (1) the creation, adoption and 
revision of a tentative comprehensive plan for the physical 
development of the city, and (2) the correlation of particu- 
lar improvements, by whatever authority originated, with 
the requirements of the comprehensive plan. The compre- 
hensive tentative plan should include at least the following: 
streets; parks, playgrounds; transit; grouping of public 
buildings ; railroads, waterways ; terminals ; markets and the 
districting of the city for the purpose of regulating the 
height, area and use of buildings. 

The creation of a comprehensive tentative plan involves 
first of all a careful study of future growth and require- 

1 See Appendix, pages 274-299. 



ments. In order to plan for the present and for the future, 
a picture is needed of what the city will or should look like 
in 25, 50 or 100 years, when it has several times its present 
population. For this purpose studies are required of the 
probable growth and distribution of population and of the 
probable development of business and industry. The prob- 
able order of development is also important. We need not 
only to know what areas will eventually be needed, for ex- 
ample, for port development and for park purposes, but 
also the probable order in which the various available areas 
will be developed. 

A comprehensive tentative plan having been worked out 
and tentatively adopted, the next step is to secure the cor- 
relation of particular improvements, by whatever authority 
originated, with the requirements of the comprehensive 
plan. As this comprehensive plan touches so many phases 
of municipal activity, an efficient administrative organiza- 
tion to secure the desired correlation is a most difficult 

Provision must also be made for the revision of the tenta- 
tive comprehensive plan. No amount of planning can avoid 
the necessity for a considerable amount of reconstruction 
and change. When invention and discovery are changing 
the methods of work and of living throughout the world, 
it is idle to think that we can so judge the future that our 
present plans for the city's development will not require 
change and modification. The " once for all " method of 
city planning is therefore impracticable. We cannot adopt 
a plan and make that the Procrustean mold for all future 
time. City planning, to be effectual, must be sustained and 

The creation, adoption, application, development and re- 
vision of the comprehensive tentative plan constitutes an 
imposing program. It takes considerable imagination and 
optimism to hope that it will ever be completely realized 
in any city. A few cities have adopted and carried out com- 
prehensive plans for particular functions, but using the 



term " comprehensive plan " in the broad sense above indi- 
cated, no city has worked out, adopted and provided ef- 
fectively for the continuous application, development and 
revision of such a plan. In a large city this constitutes a 
complex and difficult problem and the proper administrative 
organization to grapple effectively with it may not be such 
a simple matter as is sometimes assumed. 

In American state and city government almost every ex- 
pansion of governmental activity is initiated through the 
instrumentality of a new commission. There is a fear of 
intrusting the working out of new functions to existing 
officials. Existing officials are already loaded with work 
and it is thought that they will have neither the time, the in- 
clination nor perhaps the ability to develop the new idea. 
A new commission, composed usually of unpaid members, 
is used to plant and care for the new undertaking, at least 
during its development period. Often the new function 
fails to take root as a permanent institution and the com- 
mission dies. If, on the other hand, the new function be- 
comes a recognized governmental function, it is sooner or 
later merged with the general governmental organization. 
The new function is transferred to the appropriate official 
or department and the commission disappears. That is 
inevitable; otherwise municipal government would soon be- 
come an utterly disorganized tangle of boards and com- 

The city planning movement will doubtless be no exception 
to the rule. Doubtless the commission method will be used 
largely in the earlier stages of the movement, but if the city 
planning movement endures, it will ultimately be made a 
part of the general governmental organization. The city 
plan is so vitally connected with every phase of municipal 
activity that it must be worked out in as close touch as is 
possible with the existing administrative and legislative 

All this goes to show that it is difficult to dogmatize 
concerning the constitution and powers of a city planning 



authority. The organization essential for the initiation of 
the movement may be very different from the logical ulti- 
mate organization. The appropriate initial organization 
may vary in different cities with the size of the city, the 
popular support forthcoming and the fitness of existing 
officials for the development of this new function. We are, 
of course, interested primarily in the result and not in the 
machinery used. The most effective agencies at hand 
should be availed of to start real city planning. 

The typical city plan commission in America is made 
up of a number of citizens who are not city officials and 
who serve without pay. A commission thus organized has 
certain advantages in the initiation of any new function. 
Appointed solely for city planning purposes, the commis- 
sion will devote itself unreservedly to that work. It will 
take a broad view of the scope of city planning. It will 
realize that it needs the assistance of city plan experts. 
It will not be deterred by details and difficulties that loom 
large in the vision of the practical city administrator. It 
will have something of the missionary spirit in propagat- 
ing the gospel of city planning. All this presupposes that 
the commission is given adequate appropriation. A com- 
mission with the best intentions in the world will fail ut- 
terly unless its work and plans are founded on careful 
investigation, and careful investigation usually costs 

A citizen commission of this kind has serious drawbacks 
when it comes to the official adoption and carrying out of 
a comprehensive plan. In the first place it is difficult to 
see how a commission thus constituted can be given anything 
more than advisory powers, i.e., of investigation and re- 
port. The city plan affects so continuously, vitally and 
broadly the administration of the city government that it 
does not seem consistent with good administration to dele- 
gate such far-reaching power to an appointive committee 
of citizens. Moreover, a number of the city's departments 
and officials are necessarily at work planning the city's 



physical development in so far as particular functions are 
concerned. Any comprehensive plan will lose much in 
practical efficiency and result in much duplication of effort 
unless worked out in close touch with these departments 
and officials. 

All this is so important that in creating a city plan au- 
thority in any city, instead of turning at once to the citi- 
zens' commission plan, the ground should be very thoroughly 
gone over to see to what extent existing official agencies 
qan be effectively used. Only in case this search for 
appropriate official material is unsuccessful should the alter- 
native of a commission made up entirely of non-official mem- 
bers be availed of, and then only as a temporary expedient. 
It will usually be best to make up the commission partly of 
official and partly of non-official members. 

The ultimate development in any large city may well be 
a city plan office that will have primary control of the de- 
velopment and administration, but not of the adoption or 
confirmation of the city plan. This city plan office may be 
an executive department in one city and a bureau of the 
board of estimate or other governing commission in another 
city. The city plan office may have associated with it an 
advisory commission of citizens or of citizens and officials. 
The city plan office will develop the data required for com- 
prehensive planning, will create a plan showing the future 
physical development of the city and will submit to the 
regularly constituted governing authorities of the city 
such parts of the plan as seem desirable for adoption and 
confirmation as the tentative official plan of the city. All 
matters affecting the city plan will be referred to the city 
plan office for investigation and report before being acted 
upon by the general governing authority. The city plan 
office will make recommendations for the continuous de- 
velopment and revision of the tentative official plan. 

Except in the smaller cities the function of an art jury 
or commission should not be combined with those of the 
city planning authority. The best art judgment will be 



secured by the selection of a group of art experts. City 
planning is a very different problem and requires different 
men and methods. 

The organization of a city plan authority should be 
within the powers of every city, but its creation should 
be permissive and not mandatory. Moreover, the com- 
position and powers of the city plan authority should not 
be delimited by state statute except in the most general 
terms. The city should have the utmost freedom to enact, 
amend or abolish its city planning organization. This free- 
dom of action and centralization of responsibility is even 
more essential to efficient city government than is city 
planning itself. 

The power to confirm tentative plans submitted by the 
city planning authority should be vested in the regularly 
constituted governing authority of the city. The city 
plan authority should, however, be granted the opportunity 
to consider and report upon every matter affecting the in- 
tegrity of the city plan, and action contrary to its recom- 
mendation should require a two-thirds vote of the govern- 
ing authority. 

The formal confirmation of a tentative comprehensive 
plan will come slowly. It will probably be inexpedient to 
ask for an official confirmation of any but the most essential 
parts of the comprehensive plan developed by the city plan 
office. The city plan office, in formulating its picture of 
the future city, will consider many facts and factors that 
will necessarily have an important bearing upon its com- 
prehensive plan and which may be tentatively included in 
the plan, but which it would be unnecessary and inexpedient 
to submit for official confirmation. The working out of 
a comprehensive system of main thoroughfares is naturally 
one of the first tasks of the city plan office. This is a mat- 
ter, however, which, as in the case of most city planning 
matters, cannot be considered separately. Transit, rail 
and water terminals, markets, parks, building districts 
and other matters must be considered before even a tenta- 



tive system of main thoroughfares can be laid out. This 
does not mean that the transit system, parks and terminals 
shall first be laid out in detail, but merely that the system 
of thoroughfares shall be designed to provide adequately 
and economically for future transit, shall fit in with the 
most probable development of rail and water terminals 
and provide proper approaches and connections for the 
park system. Having studied the thoroughfare system in 
connection with provision for transit and other factors, it 
will probably be advisable to submit the thoroughfare plan 
for confirmation as a tentative or even final plan, even 
though the transit, terminal and other parts of the com- 
prehensive plan have not been sufficiently studied and elab- 
orated to warrant their official confirmation. 

The city plan office should realize at the start that its 
one big job is the development of the comprehensive plan, 
that it will not usually be in a position to make a unique 
contribution to the solution of particular problems until it 
has this comprehensive picture of the future city. It should 
therefore guard against frittering its time away on number- 
less apparently urgent and immediate problems and thus 
lose the opportunity of ever becoming the real controlling 
force in shaping the future city. This does not mean that 
the city plan office may not with propriety advise in re- 
gard to questions where its preliminary studies show that 
failure to act would imperil the probable future plan. 

The city plan office should have complete and direct con- 
trol of the creation and administration of certain parts 
of the comprehensive plan, and as to other parts of the 
plan should act chiefly as the correlating factor. The 
matters over which it will have practically exclusive control 
will vary greatly in different cities. In many cities the 
city plan office may be given practically exclusive control 
over the general street layout. To better enforce such 
control no plat of a suburban development should be re- 
ceived for record until it shall have been approved as to its 
street system by the city plan office. Moreover, no public 



moneys should be expended for improvements of any kind 
in any street that does not conform with the city plan or, 
if no final map has been adopted for that section of the 
city, no public improvements should be made in a street 
that has not been approved by the city plan office. 

The question of compensation for buildings erected within 
the lines of a mapped street subsequent to the confirmation 
of a final map for such street presents serious difficulties. 
Frequently the lines of an approved street cut into an in- 
dividual holding in such a way as to render it impossible 
of improvement without violating the proposed street lines. 
In exceptional cases a man would thus be deprived of the 
use of his property for an indefinite period if a rule were 
adopted denying him compensation for improvements made 
within the lines of the proposed street. Perhaps some plan 
could be worked out by which compensation for buildings 
would be denied unless previous notice of intention to build 
had been given and the city allowed a period of three 
months within which to purchase the property in question. 

Any adequate solution of the problem of securing ad- 
herence to a plan once adopted can scarcely be attained 
without the application of powers and procedure similar to 
those contained in the English Town Planning Act. This 
is particularly well adapted to the laying of large suburban 
tracts considerably in advance of the time when they will 
become ripe for improvement. Such areas, chiefly in large 
holdings, are doubtless greatly benefited by the application 
of a comprehensive plan of streets, open spaces and build- 
ing control. The owners can well afford to pay the costs 
of a careful plan and to give up a certain degree of in- 
dividual freedom in order to secure the undoubted advan- 
tages of uniform development. Of course the confirmation 
of such a plan would involve payment of compensation in 
excess of assessed benefits in the case of a few owners. We 
have no state department at all corresponding to the Local 
Government Board of Great Britain, but the supervision 
of such an authority is not deemed essential to the success 



of the undertaking. The administration of such authority 
might well be left to the city plan office, subject to the super- 
vision of the established courts in certain matters. 

The problem of intermunicipal planning and of planning 
adjacent areas that will sometime become an integral part 
of an existing urban center presents many difficulties. In 
some cases it may be possible to secure some union of ad- 
jacent local authorities to form a metropolitan district for 
the purposes of city planning. In other cases a state super- 
visory authority of some kind would probably be essential 
to the working out and enforcement of a plan for the entire 
urban area. 

A state municipal department, with powers somewhat 
similar to those of the Local Government Board of Great 
Britain, might be helpful to cities and towns in many ways. 
It could be granted a certain measure of control over local 
accounts and finances and could give expert aid and advice 
to the smaller cities on many subjects, including city 
planning. There is, moreover, a broad field for state 
planning that might be taken up by a state municipal de- 
partment, or perhaps more appropriately by a state con- 
servation department. This department would adopt a 
tentative comprehensive plan of state development, high- 
ways, railroads, waterways, forests, state parks, water 
supply and all intermunicipal problems of physical 



Frank B. Williams, Esq. 
New York City 

The average citizen is a pragmatist. To him the only 
real test of a principle is whether it works or not. Logi- 
cally, no doubt, this is not always a fair test. The prin- 
ciple may be correct, the means of applying it faulty. 
The average citizen will have none of such fine-spun dis- 
tinctions. To get his vote you must " show him," and the 
only way to accomplish it is to "do the job." Thus ad- 
ministration, important in all practical affairs, is especially 
so in matters, like city planning, where political support 
is necessary and success is dependent upon votes. If city 
planning in any community, badly administered, proves a 
failure, it will be a long time before that community, what- 
ever the new machinery of administration proposed, will 
give it a new trial. 

To us in this country the study of foreign methods of 
city planning is especially important, both because city 
planning is much newer here than in Europe and adminis- 
trative methods are of slow growth and because political 
administration is one of the things in which we have been 
least successful. That we shall anywhere find methods of 
city planning ready made, which we can with advantage 
adopt, is not probable. Administrative methods are in no 
small measure dependent for their success on local condi- 
tions and the institutions of which they form a part. The 
study of foreign institutions may indeed bring home to us 
the necessity and even suggest the substance of amendments 
to our own ; but in a country like ours, where city planning 



legislation is still too recent to be judged by its results, the 
chief value, perhaps, of such a study is the basis which it 
gives us for passing at least a provisional judgment on 
our methods, their aims and the tendency to fulfill these 

City planning is a science. In its application to different 
localities it varies greatly, but everywhere the same prin- 
ciples hold true, everywhere the main aim of city planning 
is the same. 

The main purpose of city planning is to bring about a 
unity in the construction of the given community. Com- 
munity life is a network of interests, each seeking its ex- 
pression in the physical development of the community. 
It is the lesson of city planning that these interests, 
for their common good, must be harmonized and that 
this harmony is attained only in the unity of the com- 
munity of which each is but a part. City planning ad- 
ministration is successful in proportion as it attains such 
a unity. 

What then are the means we employ here in the United 
States to reach this end? After the at once scholarly and 
practical paper of Dr. Whitten, to which you have just 
listened, it is not my purpose to enter into a discussion 
of the city planning institutions of this country. All I 
shall attempt to do, in the limited space at my disposal, is 
to give such an outline of the typical governmental ma- 
chinery used for that purpose by us as will aid us in our 
comparison of foreign city planning institutions with our 
own. In all countries, and especially in a democracy like 
ours, institutions in different localities vary. Yet here as 
elsewhere there are generally institutions in each line of 
governmental activity which, by their prevalence or grow- 
ing popularity, may fairly be said to be the prevailing 
ones. And so it is with city planning in the United States. 
That institution is the local planning commission, specially 
created to make plans for that locality and, perhaps, its 
immediate surroundings, which shall include and harmonize 

[ 145] 


all the many factors of physical development of the com- 
munity. Thus the plan embraces not alone the street sys- 
tem, but the parks and other open spaces ; the building regu- 
lations, if any, including zoning or districting; the sites 
for public buildings ; the transportation systems, both 
local and long distance, with their freight and passenger 
terminals; the public utilities, such as gas and water, and 
their location, etc. Manifestly the commission cannot be 
given full power to execute such an all inclusive plan. If 
it were, the control over all public works and the regula- 
tion of many private activities would be divided between 
the commission and the regular city authorities, to the con- 
fusion and destruction of all proper government. And 
yet to narrow the scope of the plan is to destroy its com- 
prehensiveness and the unity of development which it is 
the purpose of the commission to create. Usually there- 
fore — and this is the growing tendency — the commission 
has only advisory power. Its task is to urge the regular 
authorities to adopt the plan and develop the community 
along the lines planned ; its duty is by its influence to pre- 
vent construction by the community authorities on lines 
that will interfere with the ultimate execution of the plan 
in whole or in detail. 

In its task of seeing that the plan is carried out, both 
the commission and the regular authorities are hampered 
by the fact that, except by actually taking the land neces- 
sary for its public features, such as streets, parks and sites 
for public buildings, there is no method in this country of 
preventing private interests from infringing upon the plan 
and often rendering its future execution, in whole or in 
part, practically impossible. Wise planning anticipates 
present needs, in order that present construction may con- 
form to and aid proper future development. Wise planning 
covers the whole city, in order that it may be constructed as 
a unit. Present construction executes only such parts of 
the plan as immediate need demands and financial ability 
permits. Even the acquisition to any extent of the land 

[ 146 ] 


needed in the future seems difficult and often impossible. 
Thus the plan is a pattern to be filled in from time to time, 
and unless at the outset there is some method of making 
a general adherence to the entire plan binding upon land- 
owners, it is likely to fail, in material respects, of realiza- 
tion. The records of the planning departments of many 
of our cities show how often private improvements have 
compelled the city to modify or abandon important features 
of their official plans. But our courts, after some vacilla- 
tion, have held, everywhere where the question has arisen 
except in Pennsylvania, that the imposing of a plan upon 
the land of a private owner without compensation to him 
deprives him illegally of property rights. 1 

Thus we in the United States, as a rule, seek to obtain 
unity in our city construction by concentrating all city 
planning power in a local city planning body specially con- 
stituted for the purpose. To what extent is this good? 
To what extent does it tend to bring about the desired re- 
sults ? Unfortunately, with city planning legislation dating, 
in this country, only from 1907, it is impossible to answer 
this question by reference to results. It is therefore all the 
more important for us to consult foreign experience. By 
what machinery do they seek unity in the construction of 
their communities? In the light of their methods and re- 
sults is it probable that we can best attain our ends by 
the methods at present in vogue here? What additions or 
changes of method, if any, should we adopt? 

Among the nations of Europe, in recent times, the long- 
est and greatest measure of success in city planning has 
probably been attained by Germany. Germany is a fed- 
eration in which city planning is largely within the juris- 
diction of the various states. We thus have there a va- 
riety of experience to draw upon. Of all modern nations 
she has excelled in political administration. Her bitter- 
est critics freely admit the effectiveness, in every field, of her 
wonderful organization. Thus for many reasons Ger- 

1 Lewis, "Eminent Domain," 3d ed. (1909), sec. 226 and cases cited. 



many's city planning institutions and their results are a 
study of value to us. 

Preeminent in city planning as in most matters, although 
by no means always in the lead, stands the state of great- 
est power and prestige — Prussia. Her city planning act 
of 1875, l preceded, however, by the Italian act of 1865 and 
the Swedish act of 1874, along somewhat the same lines, 
is an important step in the history of city planning legis- 
lation — an importance much increased by the wealth of 
experience Prussia has had under the act and the influence 
of the act in other German states and to some extent in 
other countries. 

The central feature of the Prussian act is the method 
and purpose under it of fixing the lines of the streets. 
Prior to 1875 these lines were established from time to time 
as immediate occasion arose by the state police, for police 
considerations, such as safety, and the immediate demands 
of traffic, rather than, as a rule, in accordance with any 
general plan. The act of 1875 authorizes the establish- 
ing of a general street or, as the act expresses it, " build- 
ing " plan. In the fixing of street lines regard must be 
paid to considerations of traffic, safety from fire, public 
health and safety from disfigurement of the public streets 
and squares, not only for the immediate present, but for 
the future. The street lines are now to be fixed by the 
local authorities. From the time of establishment of the 
street lines the authorities may forbid building within them. 
No payment is made the landowner for the establishment of 
the plan, although of course he is compensated when his 
land is actually taken. 

It will probably be admitted by city planners generally 
that, subsequent to 1875, city planning has been more gen- 
eral and more successful in Prussia than in any state out- 

1 "Gesetz betreffend die Anlegung und Veraenderung von Strassen und 
Plaetzen in Staedten und laendlichen Ortschaften, vom 2 Juli, 1875," pop- 
ularly called the "Baufluchtliniengesetz," to be found in the "Preussi- 
sche Gesetzsammlung " for 1875, p. 561. 



side of Germany. It is therefore of interest to us to ob- 
serve that unity in community construction has not been 
attained there by constituting a special city planning body 
for the given community, to whom all city planning power 
is given; that there is no official map, required or recog- 
nized by law, that attempts to include all the factors of 
community development and that it is not even true that 
all city planning authority is in the hands of one official or 
body in the given community. 

The Prussian act of 1875 gives the city authorities them- 
selves the power to establish their own " general street 
building " plan * and makes it binding upon landowners. 
That plan is merely a street plan. It does not, in any way 
binding upon property owners, include parks or sites for 
public buildings. To be sure of them these same local 
authorities must actually buy the land at private sale, 
which they may do without proof of need for any specific 
public purpose. Railroads, their extensive stations and 
terminals are no part of the official plan of the city ; they 
are wholly within the jurisdiction of imperial or state offi- 
cials. Vitally as building regulations, which prescribe the 
materials and methods of construction and fix the bulk and 
use of buildings and the location of residential and indus- 
trial buildings according to districts or zones, are related 
to the location and character of streets, even building regu- 
lations in Prussia are not a part of the official city plan or 
issued by the local authorities who establish that plan, but 
by the state building police. 

A greater unity of authority in city planning is attained 
in many of the states outside Prussia. The complaint is 
bitter in Prussia that the local authorities cannot issue the 
building ordinances, and the example of Saxony and most 

1 The plan is usually prepared, as are all matters, by the upper branch, 
or administrative board (Magistrat) of the city assembly, for the considera- 
tion cf the lower branch, or council; the actual work being done by an ad- 
ministrative department (often what corresponds to our street department) 
under the supervision of a committee of the administrative board. 



of the South German states is cited, where building regula- 
tions are either expressly recognized as an integral part 
of the official or general street building plan of the city or 
issued by the same local authorities. 1 Nowhere in Ger- 
many, however, is there a planning body specially consti- 
tuted for cities or other localities with power to include all 
factors of community development in their plan ; 2 nowhere 
is all city planning power placed in the hands of any one 
authority; nowhere is an official plan provided for which 
shall contain all the factors of city construction and 

How then is that unity, so clearly seen in the construc- 
tion of German cities, obtained? By the knitting together 
of all government, local, state and even national. The 
regulation of manufacturing, which is at the basis of the 
creation of industrial districts throughout Germany, is im- 
perial, but that regulation is in part a permission to the 
states to regulate in certain respects and by given meth- 
ods. 3 The states usually impose the duty of this regulation 
upon local officials, who act, so far as this duty is con- 
cerned, as state agents. It is the usual practice in Ger- 

1 The building regulations are recognized as a part of the street building 
plan in Saxony ("Allgemeines Baugesetz vom 1 Juli, 1900," sec. 16) and to 
some extent in Wtirtemberg ("Bauordnung vom 28 Juli, 1910," art. 11). 
In Wurtemberg the general law, just cited, makes certain building regula- 
tions, which local ordinances may vary (see art. 39, 56, 59, 94), and the 
law is similar in Baden ("Landesbauordnung vom 1 Sept., 1907," sec. 2, 
109). In Bavaria the building regulations, so far as they are not prescribed 
by general law or local ordinance, are fixed at the same time that the build- 
ing line is determined ("Bauordnung vom 17 Feb. 1901-3 Aug. 1910," sec. 
2, 3). In Saxony the general law lays down building regulations which are 
in force only if the local authorities do not pass such regulations by ordi- 
nance ("Baugesetz," already cited, sec. 90 ff.). 

2 The nearest approach in Germany, of which I have knowledge, to the 
American local [planning commission is the Munich Local-baukomission, 
whose sole duties are with relation to the street building plan, the building 
ordinances and a few minor matters — by no means the whole field of city 

3 " Gewerbeordnung fuer das deutsche Reich, vom 21 Juni, 1869," to be 
found in the "Bundes Gesetzblatt des norddeutschen Bundes" for that year, 
p. 245. 



many to assign state duties not to officials exclusively in 
state employ, but to local functionaries. The authority of 
the state over its agent is nevertheless preserved. The 
local official, as a state officer, must follow the instructions 
of his state superiors ; appeals from his acts lie to state 
authorities, who maintain the policies of the state. For 
instance, the state building police, who in Prussia issue the 
building and districting regulations, are, it is true, in a 
few of the largest cities, like Berlin, solely state officials; 
but in most of her cities these duties are intrusted to the 
burgomeister, or mayor, or to the upper administrative 
board of the city — both local authorities ; and whether 
solely state officers or local officials as well, they execute 
the will of the state, carry out her policies and obey her 
superior and supreme officials and rulers. Nevertheless 
harmony between state and local provisions cannot but 
be promoted by the use of the same officials for promul- 
gating both. 

Where there is not this use of the same person or body 
as the agent of different authorities, there are often provi- 
sions for notice to the various authorities concerned and 
consultation between them. For instance, in Saxony the 
building police (state officials) are charged with the duty 
of examining the general street building or official city plan 
fixed by the local authorities and seeing that all the public 
authorities affected are notified and the necessary changes 
made in the plans to guard their interests. 1 Among these 
authorities are the military, forest, railroad, state high- 
way, officials, all state authorities ; the church and school 
authorities, local officials ; and the authorities of neighbor- 
ing communities, who must as well be consulted. 

It should also be remembered that local self-government 
does not mean quite the same thing in Germany that it 
does with us. While the field of that government is broader 
there than here, the extent of it is limited by appeals from 
local action to state authorities, by state inspection of the 
1 "Baugesetz," cited above, sec. 21. 



acts of local authorities and by the necessity for the rati- 
fication in many cases of local action by state officials. In 
street planning, which very generally is done by local bodies, 
as in the matter of building regulations, which in many 
states is, in greater or less degree, also a local matter, the 
final authority throughout Germany is the Minister of the 
Interior or some similar minister of the ruler. In Prussia, 
it is true, the " street building " plan does not need his 
ratification, but appeals from those who feel themselves 
aggrieved by that plan go to him or his subordinates. In 
most German states outside Prussia the " building street " 
plan must have his approval, and, generally, he may give 
or withhold it on any ground he sees fit, including the 
ground that the plans are not for the general welfare or 
suited to the community in question, or that the rights 
of other authorities or communities are not sufficiently con- 
sidered. Thus this common state authority, to whom all 
may appeal, tends to unify and harmonize all interests. 

Eminent as Germany is in city planning, she by no means 
stands alone among European nations. It was Italy which 
was the first to pass city planning legislation along modern 
lines under her act of June 25, 1865, entitled " The Law 
of Expropriation for Purposes of Public Utility." Plans 
are divided into regulation plans, as they are called, for 
the built-up portions of towns, and extension plans, for 
their newer parts. Both these plans, however, may be 
united into one common plan for the entire community. 
The responsibility for the drawing up of the plan rests 
upon the mayor of the commune. It is his duty to present 
the plan to the counsel of the commune for adoption, after 
which, to be in force, it must be ratified by the king. The 
commune now has at once the right to take the necessary 
land by condemnation. The plan is binding upon all land- 
owners affected by it for twenty-five years, and this period 
may be extended by royal decree. No person who makes 
any improvement interfering with the plan for the purpose 
of making a profit is entitled to any compensation. Any 



improvement made after the plan is made public is re- 
garded as made for profit and is not paid for by the com- 
mune when it takes the land on which the improvement was 
made. One-half of the increase of value of any land due 
to the plan must be paid the commune. It has been found 
that this increase, on the average, about pays for the con- 
struction of streets and similar features of the plan. Thus 
it will be seen that Italy anticipated by ten years some of 
the most important features of the Prussian act of 1875. 

In 1909 England passed her first act professedly dealing 
with city or town planning. 1 All the planning powers 
under the act are given to the authority of the locality, 
subject to the supervision and control of the Local Govern- 
ment Board of the central government. These powers are 
extensive. Even acts of Parliament may be superseded by 
the " scheme " which these local authorities enforce. The 
plan which they make binds private landowners. But the 
law selects for planning " land which is in course of de- 
velopment or appears likely to be used for building pur- 
poses." In other words the act deals, practically, with 
undeveloped areas, only, in or near cities and towns. It 
does not attempt to plan cities as a whole. Admirable and 
full of lessons for us in many respects as this act is, it 
does not furnish us with a basis of comparison with our 
own planning, which treats cities as organic wholes. Eng- 
lish city planners recognize the defects of their act, and 
before the war began there was a good prospect of its 
speedy amendment in some way so that plans should cover 
entire communities. 

What then is the lesson of European experience in city 
planning administration for us? First, as it seems to me, 
that some method of making certain features of the city 
plan binding on private property owners is essential. This 
is fundamental in city planning legislation in Italy, 
throughout Germany and in England. Even in England, 
however, where only the undeveloped part of towns and 
1 9 Edward 7, chap. 44. 



cities is planned in any binding sense, no attempt is made 
to include all these features, and in Germany only the street 
system — including, in most cases, building and districting 
regulations — is so planned. Even with these limitations 
the freer and more democratic of the German states have 
felt it necessary to protect the landowner from injustice 
by specifying when he has the right to demand that the 
community shall at once take and pay for his land, sub- 
jected to the city's plan. 1 This is perhaps an indication of 
the care we must take, and perhaps of the methods of tak- 
ing care, that our own legislation giving binding force to 
certain features of the city plan may be constitutional and 

There remains the most important question: Does Ger- 
man experience tend to show that our prevailing method 
of planning — the specially created local commission with 
the duty to include all factors of community development 
in its plan, but with only advisory power to secure its 
adoption — is unsound? In my opinion, no. Both Ger- 
man administration and ours have the same aim — unity 
in community construction. This aim we cannot attain — 
if indeed we altogether desire to do so — by the knitting to- 
gether of all governmental institutions, as in Germany. 
Attain this city planning unity we must, but in our own 
way. The all inclusive plan of the American Planning 
Commission, if followed, in its main features, does give 
the desired unity. The planning commission can secure the 
adoption and execution of its plan by the city officials only 
by educating the public. This is good for the public and 
for city planning, for a cause can, in a democracy like 
ours, succeed only when it has intelligent public opinion 
back of it, and should ask for success on no other terms. 

1 A good illustration is furnished by a provision of law in Baden: 
"The owner of a lot that has not been built upon can require the commu- 
nity to take it at once if, according to the established plan, the lot is to be 
surrendered in its entirety, or if and so far as it, in consequence of its loca- 
tion on an already existing street, is suitable for building, or if the lot is 
destined to be a public square, and the land for the streets surrounding the 




Thomas Adams, City Planning Adviser Conservation 
Commission of Canada: 

I am in a somewhat difficult position this morning, as I 
disagree on some points with the two speakers who have 
preceded me, and rather more I should say with Mr. Wil- 
liams than I do with Dr. Whitten. I think it is my business, 
sir, to open the discussion and to deal with papers that 
have jbeen read. I will therefore endeavor to confine at- 
tention to the points raised in those papers rather than to 
open up new issues. 

In the main I think the suggestions made by Dr. Whitten 
are sound, except in so far as he introduces the word 
" tentative." In my experience no scheme that is brought 
forward of a tentative character is of much value except 
as an illustration for the information of the officials and 
the city council which is dealing with the matter. And 
once a city planning scheme reaches the stage of being a 
definite proposal to be carried out in practice it necessarily 
ceases to be tentative in its general form, and it must 
cease to be tentative in its details and provisions if it is 
going to be of any value whatsoever. The whole point is 
very strongly put by Mr. Williams in one of the last 
paragraphs of his paper where he says : " First it seems to 
me that some method of making certain features of city 
town planning binding on private property owners is es- 

Everyone knows the extent to which town planning 
touches private property, and we have got to realize the 
ramifications of city planning in that respect before we fully 
realize the necessity for making our schemes definite and 

square has been acquired by the community." ("Ortsstrassengesetz vom 
15 Oktober, 1908," sec. 8, par. 21.) 

The law with relation to land destined to become a public square is the 
same in WUrtemberg ("Bauordnung," cited above, art. 15, par. 6) and Anhalt 
("Bauordnung vom 19 Juni, 1905," sec. 14, par. 5). 



making these schemes before we start to operate them, mak- 
ing them of a character that we can secure legislative sanc- 
tion for the provisions they contain. 

Now the question of having a tentative plan or scheme 
is suggested, I think, because of the absence of legislation. 
Because there is no legislative power to back up a definite 
proposal for city planning some other method of securing 
the object is being sought. We do not speak in Canada, 
where we have legislation, or in Great Britain, where they 
have had the act since 1909, of a tentative plan, because 
we have got legislation to make it definite. Here, because 
of the constitutional difficulties perhaps in obtaining the 
powers to get definite plans prepared which you can make 
legal in form, I think the danger is that you are going to 
seek some method of escape from these difficulties and be 
content with a tentative plan. 

Now what does the average tentative plan amount to? 
Detroit has had its tentative plan and, because it was tenta- 
tive, it has failed to a large extent. Had the foresight and 
intelligence of those men who designed the central scheme 
for this city, had that been interpreted or incorporated in 
terms of law and made an act of Parliament which could 
not be altered, Detroit would have been a better city to- 
day. But because it was capable of variation according to 
the whims of a transitory municipal authority, because it 
was tentative and because there was no continuity of ad- 
ministration behind it, it was not properly carried out. 
When a plan is tentative it is subject to every whim and 
fancy of those who are in political power. 

You may say, for instance, that your by-law system, 
that our by-law system in Canada is tentative. The city 
of Toronto may today pass a by-law that the heights of 
buildings in Toronto shall not exceed 100 feet and a week 
later it may decide they shall be 150 feet. It desires to 
keep that power, that discretionary power, but see how 
it injures the interests of those who have a large stake in 
property of the city. Apart from that — and I think to 



some extent that interferes with some of the arguments in 
Dr. Whitten's paper — apart from that I should subscribe 
to most of his suggestions, except this: I would say it is 
absolutely essential for town planning in the United States, 
as it is with us in Canada and it is in Great Britain, it is 
absolutely essential to have some constitutional state au- 
thority to supervise and to administer town planning. 

You have, I think, a very good example of the method 
to pursue from our Canadian experience. We have not 
the constitutional difficulties that you have in these states. 
Our provinces are fairly powerful in the matter of dealing 
with municipal affairs and even with the right to deal with 
private rights in property. We do not appear to have 
the interference of the lawyers with our democratic prin- 
ciples when we touch these questions. A lawyer-made law 
is sometimes very fair and sound in principle, and I am one 
of those who plead for the lawyer in city planning, but in 
a democratic country, while you may want to limit discre- 
tionary power by democratic measures, you do not want 
that discretion so frequently overridden by legal techni- 

Where some of our friends make the mistake is that they 
forget the lawyer. They prepare a fine scheme, they lay 
down a fine system of diagonal streets, a civic center and 
many suggestions which are excellent in themselves. And 
then they go to the lawyer and say : " We want to carry 
these out." Why, they should have gone to him be- 
fore they started and got his opinion as to how to carry 
them out and the powers required to carry them out. The 
lawyer is required to come in at the earliest stage in con- 
nection with town planning and not in the final stages ; 
otherwise he necessarily impedes progress rather than helps 

Now, with regard to the paper of Mr. Williams, I do 
not want to be regarded as in any way prejudiced against 
German methods. I have spoken as enthusiastically as any- 
body about Germany and its town planning. I have vis- 



ited many of her cities and admire them in some respects. 
But I think, if I may say so, that Mr. Williams, while he 
seems to have studied German town planning very closely, 
does England this injustice — that he has not given it 
sufficient attention. The only criticism I would use with 
regard to German town planning is a quotation which I 
ventured to submit to the conference last year, which I 
will repeat and which comes from a Berlin source, not from 
my own lips, plus a statement of Mr. Williams himself, 
because to some extent he is self-contradictory. The state- 
ment I quoted last year was from the " Westminster Ga- 
zette," from a Berlin correspondent: 

"Town planning in Germany is being reformed on prin- 
ciples borrowed from England, but the inadequate town 
planning still practised by most important municipalities 
drives building land to extravagant prices and militates 
against the provision of dwellings." 

Now the first object of town planning is to promote 
sound business conditions and sound living conditions. And 
the first result of town planning in Germany appears to 
be to destroy the main object for which the town planning 
schemes are prepared. 

Mr. Williams in his paper says : " The central feature of 
the Prussian act is the method and purpose, under it, of 
fixing the lines of the streets." This is the central feature 
of an act which, he says, is by far the greatest measure 
of city planning in Europe. It fixes the lines of the streets 
and matters of a similar kind. But, as he knows, the 
Prussian act of 1875 was based practically on the Italian 
act of 1865 and the Swedish act of 1874 and is not a town 
planning act at all. It is a series of regulations governing 
building lines and street lines, and was only called a town 
extension act. The Italian act and the Swedish act have 
been successful, but they have not had the driving force of 
the Prussian autocracy behind them. That is the only real 
distinction between them. And that autocracy is of im- 
mense value in a matter of this kind to secure an even sky 



line, a harmonious grouping of buildings or a satisfactory 
building line. But the price you may have to pay for it 
is the price of liberty. You might in a democratic country 
say that men shall not put up buildings higher than six 
stories, but you cannot say that every building shall be six 
stories in a particular street, otherwise you would have 
everybody relieved of office in the responsible city council 
at very frequent intervals. After all we are prepared to 
accept the kind of autocracy which says : " You shall not 
do wrong," but. we are not prepared to accept the dicta- 
tion of another man who says : " I know the way, and it is 
right, and nobody else knows it, and you have got to do 
what I tell you." 

We must have in a democratic country that amount of 
restriction which will prevent us from injuring our neigh- 
bors; but after all, this great continent has to thank the 
inspiration of liberty and its democratic institutions for 
the greatness which it has attained, and we will have to base 
our city planning on that democratic foundation. We 
must make our town planning democratic. And it is be- 
cause we have to make it democratic that I disagree with 
Mr. Williams in his suggestion that Germany offers any- 
thing in the way of an example. 

The boulevards in this city are as fine as the boulevards 
you will find in some of those German cities which are so 
highly praised and which are looked upon as a Mecca for 
American tourists. I have heard a German — Professor 
Eberstadt — himself say that the external features of city 
planning in Germany, the grandiose and spacious streets, 
are merely for the purpose of impressing the visitors. He 
was one of those men who took a very strong stand that 
all that money which was spent in German cities in making 
those fine streets and securing those fine architectural ef- 
fects was so much money taken from securing healthy con- 
ditions for the poorer people of those cities. There seems 
to be some truth in that, because in Berlin 65 per cent of 
the people are living in houses of less than three rooms, as 



against, I think, about 25 per cent in the great city of 
London, where we are regarded as having so many slums. 

I do not wish to press this point regarding housing con- 
ditions, because on former occasions I have dealt rather 
fully with that question as one which was being neglected, 
and I think that the Conference has been taking it up se- 
riously enough; but I would like to try and indicate or 
repeat some of the considerations which seem to me to be 
necessary to be repeated in order that we may come to a 
proper understanding of what we in Canada regard as 
proper town planning. 

I would like to say, first, that I listened with a great 
deal of pleasure to those who spoke last night on the 
architectural side of town planning. We want to give 
that every possible consideration, but I do not think we 
want to forget this — that the city exists for the purpose 
of carrying on business. You can have a city or a town 
without a civic center and it can still exist, although it may 
not be satisfactory, but you cannot have a city unless 
there is some business purpose connected with its existence. 
The raison d'etre of a city is to carry on business. It may 
be to distribute agricultural produce, it may be to manu- 
facture motor cars, it may be to manufacture laws, as in 
Washington, but there is a business purpose for the foun- 
dation of every city. The conservation of its business in- 
terests is necessarily the first consideration of the town 
planner. The promotion of healthy conditions of home 
life is a second consideration. 

Now to say that the foundation of town planning is 
business and healthy housing conditions is not to say that 
architecture need be neglected. These things come later. 
They are the expression of the intelligence and the artistic 
qualities of the people as a whole, and they are the expres- 
sion of the civic conscience of the people as they build up 
the city, but they do not form the foundation of city life. 
To say that this hotel first requires a foundation is not 
to say that it does not require a superstructure or that the 



superstructure is unimportant. But the foundation of 
those buildings comes first and it has a great deal to do even 
with the architecture, and certainly it is necessary to have 
the foundation before you put up the building. The foun- 
dation of your town planning is the consideration of the 
business interests and the home conditions of the people. 

When you consider that and when you consider the 
numerous private interests that have to be dealt with in 
preparing your scheme, then you see the necessity of having 
legislation behind you in order to do so on satisfactory 

Now there is one suggestion by Mr. Williams regarding 
English methods in which I think he has somewhat mis- 
understood the British act. He says : " The act only ap- 
plies to land in the course of development or land likely to 
be used for building purposes." 

The act does apply primarily to that land, but it may 
include the land already built upon if there is any reason 
for including such land. If the Local Government Board 
in its opinion decides that a building lot or building land 
ought to be included, it can include it, but it merely means 
this — it places the responsibility for including the built- 
upon land on a special decision of the Local Government 
Board, and I think rightfully so. It merely means that 
before you include a built-upon lot you will have to go 
carefully into the question of whether you are going to 
interfere with those who have erected those buildings and 
invested their money in them, and whether it is necessary 
for some purpose of the scheme to include such land or not. 

If, for instance, a town planning scheme were prepared 
for Detroit, a great part of the city might very well be 
left out of the city planning area, because there is nothing 
that you can do with it at reasonable expense. Therefore 
you may as well save yourself the trouble of serving notices 
on all the owners in order to include that land. But in 
order to overcome any ambiguity about that question in 
Canada we say in our act, which is based on the British 



precedent, we say that all land may be included in the town 
planning scheme. We thus make no distinction between 
land that is already built upon and land that is not. At 
the same time, in practice, I am certain a great deal of 
land which is already built upon will be excluded. The sug- 
gestion has been made by Mr. Williams that because in 
England they proceed by means of sectional schemes, there- 
fore it is a district planning act and not a comprehensive 
city planning act. 

Well now, if any of you engineers or architects can real- 
ize what it means to plan Greater London, can you imagine 
any practical way of doing it as one comprehensive scheme? 
Take 1000 square miles, put it on one map of 25 inches to 
the mile and it would carpet a considerable part of this 
city of Detroit. To deal with an area of 1000 square 
miles, 640,000 acres, you will have 100 maps, each contain- 
ing 600 acres and each of which would certainly cover the 
two panels of this wall which you see on the left. Just 
imagine the difficulty of making one large map instead of 
100 for that area. You couldn't do it and you would 
therefore have to proceed in sections, for practical reasons 
connected with the preparation of maps. 

Take another point. There are 137 authorities in the 
area of Greater London. Each of those authorities has 
jurisdiction in its own area and each of them has to deal 
with its own separate area. Schemes have to be prepared 
in sections, therefore, for the purpose of giving each au- 
thority power to plan its own area. The authorities are 
made by the Local Government Board to cooperate and to 
secure one unified plan. Now if all I can hear about the 
United States is correct, adjacent authorities do not al- 
ways agree, for instance, in having one water supply, even 
when desirable, upon methods of administering their joint 
areas. Now if it is difficult to get two authorities to agree, 
how much more difficult is it to get 137? And yet these 
137 authorities in Greater London are trying to determine 
the whole of the main arterial roads in an area 1000 square 



miles as the basis for their series of town planning schemes. 
On that basis each separate local authority has to prepare 
its own scheme, and in that respect it is sectional. But 
uniformity is secured by the central administration of the 
Local Government Board, which has to approve every one 
of those sectional schemes. You see the importance of 
this natural or state supervision for the purpose of securing 
united action. 

Now Highland Park is outside of Detroit. If Detroit 
prepared a town planning scheme, it would be a great mis- 
fortune if Highland Park did not work in with that scheme 
and prepare a scheme which would be in harmony with it. 
Yet as human nature is, and with your form of municipal 
government, it is very unlikely that the authorities will 
agree without some pressure from a state department. 
By having this state department and this legislation in 
England they not only can get two authorities to work to- 
gether, but 137 in one district. Those 137 are giving 
themselves up in this time of tragedy in Europe to confer- 
ences for the purpose of trying to settle these very ques- 
tions with which we have so much difficulty on this side of 
the Atlantic. As Mr. Crawford pointed out yesterday, 
authority to prepare schemes has been given, or is about 
to be given, to about 120 local authorities or municipalities 
in England in respect of areas which will provide for a 
population of about 18,000,000 people. These schemes 
are prepared in advance of the requirements by from 25 to 
100 years. I think that the misapprehension regarding 
them being sectional is due to the fact that as a matter of 
practice they have to be sectional for reasons I have given, 
but unity is obtained by the central department. 

I think it is right that we should at these discussions ex- 
press our differences of opinion and try to get at the truth. 
That is what I think we are here for. I think we are here 
to talk about technicalities and not to ignore them. We 
are here to deal with the matter in a businesslike way and 
not solely from the point of view of the artist. We are not 



to ignore his point of view, but we are also to consider 
what is necessary for securing his and other purposes on a 
sound financial basis. And we have at the same time to con- 
sider that the truth is often best obtained by each of us 
getting up and expressing a different point of view. What 
I have endeavored to make clear is that a central state de- 
partment is necessary to supervise municipal action in city 
planning, that plans must be definite and not merely tenta- 
tive and that to accomplish these purposes legislation is 
necessary as a preliminary. 

With regard to actual experience I think while I am on 
my feet I should like to indicate what we are doing in 
Canada. We have our Commission of Conservation at 
Ottawa, which is a Dominion department. The depart- 
ment is advisory and is not an executive body. They take 
the attitude that their duty is not only to conserve natural 
resources, but is to conserve human life by promoting pub- 
lic health, and even to conserve the finances and general 
stability of our municipalities. Our duty is therefore one 
of national conservation. We not only want to conserve 
resources in the rural districts, but also in the cities which 
are growing up in Canada. You know we have about half 
of our people living in cities and towns. 

We have passed a compulsory town planning act for 
Nova Scotia, and the whole province of Nova Scotia must 
be town planned within three years, according to that act. 
In Alberta there is a permissive act. In Saskatchewan 
there is a proposal to introduce a compulsory town planning 
act by the Hon. Mr. Langley, who spoke at the last Con- 

The cities and towns are asking for compulsory legisla- 
tion. Only two or three days ago I attended a conference 
in southwestern Ontario where there were 20 cities rep- 
resented. They unanimously passed a resolution calling 
upon the Ontario legislature to compel them to town plan. 
That is the right order in which to proceed. 

Compulsion brought from the top on a democratic peo- 
ple will never succeed, but where the people recognize the 



need for controlling the excesses of liberty and themselves 
suggest means to do so, success is certain. 

We are succeeding in Canada and going even farther 
than they are in England. In so far as we have settled 
principles definitely fixed in our minds we are making it 
compulsory planning, and in so far as we cannot do so 
we are leaving it optional. 

I should like to explain briefly what is compulsory and 
what is optional. The compulsory provisions are that 
every authority, whether municipality, rural municipality, 
town or city, shall create a local town planning board. 
That is the first compulsory section. The second is that 
every subdivision which is hereafter made shall be sub- 
mitted to and approved by that local board when it is 
created. The third provision is that the local board must 
within three years prepare a set of town planning by-laws 
or a town planning scheme. The town planning by-laws 
must lay down certain minimum provisions and conditions. 
For instance, in Nova Scotia no building can be erected 
nearer to another, on opposite sides of a street, than 80 
feet if it is a main thoroughfare. They must also prepare 
a by-law governing the limitation of the houses to the acre. 
The question of whether any area shall be specially set 
aside for factories and whether any area shall be set aside 
for shopping or some other purpose must be covered in 
those by-laws. 

Now town planning has to be social as well as archi- 
tectural. It has also to have a sound financial basis. And 
I venture to say that when these matters are considered 
at the outset it will be found that our scheme will conform 
to the ideas advanced by Dr. Whitten and others that a 
scheme has to provide for growth. We must make provi- 
sion for alterations as we go along, but we must fix only 
those things as definite which can be fixed now either by 
agreement with owners or at the public expense after due 
consideration of the cost, otherwise our whole planning will 
be unsuccessful. 



And finally, do not let us leave the lawyer out of the 
town planning at the beginning of our schemes. A town 
planning scheme in England is an act of Parliament and 
the plan is illustrative of the act. Unless you get legal 
powers first, you are in this position — that the more per- 
fect your plan, the less certain is it that you can carry it 
out, except at an unreasonable expense, because you have 
given your case away by preparing the plan. Those who 
are in a position to defeat your scheme have the knowledge 
which enables them to do it if they wish to defeat it. 

I hope that in opening this discussion I have raised some 
points that will bring out other views. 

A. L. Brockway, Chairman City Plan Commission, 
We have in Syracuse today a commission which is in its 
second year of official existence and previous to its ap- 
pointment we had a committee of the chamber of commerce 
which worked on city planning for about three years. The 
plan commission is created by the authority of a general 
enabling act passed by the legislature of New York, which 
makes the appointment of such commissions permissive. 
From several years' experience, both with the committee of 
the chamber and with the plan commission, we have learned 
first that the type of city government must determine spe- 
cifically what the functions of the city planning authority 
in any city shall be, and, second, that plan commissions 
should have definite and final authority in some matters at 
least. Whether that authority shall be given in the form of 
a veto power or whether the general departments of the 
city government shall be reorganized are matters which 
need to have further study. While I appreciate that this 
discussion must necessarily deal with generalities, I am 
sure that these generalities can only be arrived at through 
the study of specific instances and I shall cite some from 
our experience. 

We tried by state law to govern housing conditions in 

[ 166 ] 


cities of the second class. The law was in existence for one 
year, and raised a howl from one end of the state to the 
other. It was repealed at the next session of the legisla- 
ture with the recommendation by the legislative committee 
that each city should adopt a housing act suited to its own 
peculiar requirements. I refer to this act as showing the 
difficulty of using mandatory or even permissive legislation. 

Not until the man on the street becomes impressed with 
a higher respect for law than the average man in his coun- 
try shall we make the advance in city planning that we 
expect to. The autocracy of the imperial German govern- 
ment is a tremendous asset, and the respect for law on the 
part of the citizen of Germany and England, particularly 
in England where the government is really more democratic 
than in this country, is the thing that makes success pos- 
sible. The great stumbling block in our country which 
both Mr. Williams and Mr. Adams have pointed out is the 
question of private property, the fundamental rights of the 
private individual. It is a very fair definition of a city 
that it is a place to do business in, to live in, and to get 
from your home to your business and do it pleasantly and 
comfortably. Now if the individual is going to insist upon 
his own rights it will be very difficult to secure the unity of 
interest which is essential to the best growth of the city. 

Syracuse is operated under a charter common to all sec- 
ond class cities in New York. The common council made 
up of one representative from each ward is the legislative 
authority. The administrative officers are the five mem- 
bers of the Board of Estimates and Apportionment, con- 
sisting of the mayor, corporation counsel, comptroller, city 
engineer and president of the council. In the course of 
organization of the departments considerable control over 
the physical growth of the city is given to the department 
of public works and much authority is conferred upon the 
city engineer and the commissioner of public works who are 
both members of this department. The result is often that 
street openings, street extensions and street improvements 



are made in accordance with no definite comprehensive plan, 
but merely follow the whim of this man or that. 

Now we believe that the city planning authority is ex- 
actly as important as the department of public works or 
the department of health. We believe that such a de- 
partment is necessary to prevent deformities in the addition 
of outlying districts already existing and to prevent de- 
formities in the arrangement and rearrangement of the 
rapid transit system. As in New York state where 169 
departments and commissions, overlapping but in no way 
coordinating, are responsible for administration, so in a 
city like Syracuse there is no one definite head to determine 
the business policy of the city. We believe that the work of 
the city engineer, of the commissioner of public works, of 
the park commission and a special commission called the 
grade crossing commission, might well be grouped together 
to perform a part of the work of the city planning depart- 
ment. To illustrate: We have a very serious grade cross- 
ing problem in Syracuse; the New York Central crosses 
the entire east and west ends of the town at grade. The 
legislature passed an act creating a special commission and 
gave the commission the power, subject to the approval of 
the Board of Estimates and Apportionment of Syracuse, 
to issue bonds for the purpose of obligating the city for 
its portion of the expense in connection with elimination of 
the grade crossing. You can see that nothing could be 
more important to Syracuse than the solution of the grade 
crossing problem in accordance with a comprehensive plan, 
yet there has been no cooperation between the grade cross- 
ing commission and the city planning commission. About 
a year ago the grade crossing commission contributed for 
an exhibit in New York City a tentative study which the 
city planning commission had made, but no credit was given 
to the city planning commission. I cite this as a reason 
to justify my stand that until a city planning authority is 
vested with some actual authority either by a veto power, 
or by representation on the Board of Estimates and Ap- 



portionment, we cannot expect the members of common 
councils or the average citizen to have the respect for a 
city planning authority which they should have. 

In connection with the drainage and canal system of the 
state the New York legislature has made provision for a 
terminal in Syracuse. After several years' study, a plan 
which was worked out by a committee of the chamber of 
commerce and the Technology Club was finally adopted by 
the Canal Board and 95 per cent of the opinion of Syracuse 
was focused upon the location suggested for a terminal. 
The state engineer was to go ahead with its construction, 
but year after year went by and nothing was done. The 
city plan commission did what it could in the matter, but 
being entirely advisory it was like a fly buzzing around the 
state engineer, and he paid very little attention to it. 

Last January a change of administration brought in a 
Republican state engineer. The question as to the location 
of the terminal appeared again for public discussion. An 
entire elimination of all the previous plans, of all the 
studies for location of industries of the city and for the 
possibility of development of great industrial areas, — all 
these were thrown to the winds. After a few spasmodic 
efforts a conference was held. The representative of the 
New York Central was there and the mayor and his city 
engineer and one or two members of the grade crossing 
commission, and at this conference was presented a new 
plan by the new state engineer which entirely disregarded 
all previous studies. The city planning commission was not 
considered of particular importance in the deliberation be- 
cause the chief engineer of the New York Central and the 
state engineer said if the question were opened to the public 
it would throw the whole thing in the air and delay it so 
long that the terminal might be lost entirely. If the city 
planning authority in Syracuse had been vested with a veto 
power as it is in the matter of new subdivisions both within 
the city and outside of the city, a good deal might have been 



We are having a state convention in New York these days 
for the purpose of revising the constitution, a thing that 
occurs about once in twenty years. I believe there is going 
to be a pretty radical reorganization of the govern- 
mental departments of the state. I believe there will be a 
provision which will allow cities to organize their govern- 
ment according to their own requirements, and that that 
form of government will include some recognition of the 
fact that city planning is today standing up and ready to 
walk, and that means will be provided for it to walk with 
a steady tread in the right direction. 

Austen H. McGregor, President City Plan Commis- 
sion, Newark, N. J.: 

From inception the city planning agency and all con- 
nected with it are usually on the defensive, either because 
the public lacks knowledge or understanding of its purpose 
or because the public is unable, either in fact or in idea, to 
divorce city planning from politics. It is difficult but im- 
portant to dispel these two clouds of doubt and suspicion. 

To remove the lack of knowledge or misunderstanding is 
the easier task. The plan must be practical. It must be 
so clearly formulated as to be easily intelligible and not 
open to petty criticism, and its features should be made 
widely known by an able publicity campaign. To convince 
the citizen public that the city plan has to do with the 
physical rather than the political future welfare of the 
city is not so easy a task. Its accomplishment depends 
greatly upon the character of the city planning agency, 
upon the personal qualities of the members and their gen- 
eral attitude toward civic problems. Furthermore it must 
be self-evident to the citizens that some plan is a vital 
necessity, that this plan is founded upon facts which have 
been thoroughly studied rather than upon a superficial 
knowledge of general conditions and, lastly, that the ends 
at which the plan aims justify the means of accomplish- 
ment. Thus to show that the plan is an imperative part 



of the city structure rather than a panacea for all municipal 
ills is to make for eventual success. 

Creation of City Planning Agency 

There should be in every state an act of the legislature 
making mandatory the creation of city planning agencies. 
This means widespread activity with broad results. To 
make the creation of the city planning agency permissive 
means, in many instances, a lack of response, chiefly be- 
cause of lethargy or ignorance of the subject's vital 

Organization of City Planning Agency 

The city planning agency should consist of not less than 
five nor more than seven members in cities having a popu- 
lation of 100,000 and of three to five members in cities and 
towns under 100,000. For effective work it is essential 
to have a small board. If a larger membership is desired, 
citizens and officials may be added as advisory members 

An agency of five members could well consist of the city 
engineer; one other representative city official, for instance 
a member of the board of estimate, common council, city 
commission or similar body ; and three citizens of the high- 
est repute, preferably a representative business man, a 
physician and an architect or lawyer. Much depends upon 
the personal character of these men; the decisions of the 
board will carry much more weight if they are free from 
suspicion of political bias. 

City planning demands expert administration. There 
should be at the command of the board expert advisers hav- 
ing wide experience in engineering, in architecture and in 
publicity, and the office force, according to the size of the 
municipality and the character of its problems, should be 
trained to render the necessary services along these three 



Powers of City Planning Agency 

The powers of a city planning agency can be considered 
under two headings: (1) those which are mandatory, sub- 
ject to the veto of the executive governing body; (2) those 
which are purely recommendatory. Since the city planning 
agency is usually appointive it would be contrary to the 
principles of good government to vest it with absolute 
power, yet the power to investigate and report only is 
insufficient and tends to belittle the value of its work. The 
supervision of the design and regulation of all public build- 
ings, bridges, statues, etc., and of land subdivisions could 
well be placed in the control of the city planning agency, 
subject to the veto of the executive governing body. 

Among the other powers and duties concerning which it 
should have authority to recommend only should be any 
public or quasi-public improvement having to do with the 
physical development of the city. This would include 
everything to be contained in the comprehensive plan as, 
for instance: (a) street system; (o) parks, playgrounds 
and recreation system; (c) transit and transportation; (d) 
rail and water terminals; (e) markets; (/) districting of 
city for the purpose of regulating height, area and use of 
buildings; (g) housing; (h) official city map (unless already 
provided by other city department). 

There will be a varying degree of work to be done under 
each of the above subjects according to the specific prob- 
lems of each community and the degree to which the munici- 
pality has progressed along these lines. And the desir- 
ability of having a body free from political or other bias 
which can freely express opinions on these problems is ap- 
parent, although such a device is unusual. 

Program of Procedure 

The first thing to do is to form the city planning agency 
and put it on a working basis. After that two things must 
be done simultaneously. 



There should be a publicity campaign. It is almost im- 
possible to put too much emphasis upon publicity, for 
upon the degree to which the citizen public appreciates the 
necessity for a well defined policy of public improvement 
depends the manner in which the plan will be received and 

And there should be a collection of data. An intelligent 
plan can be prepared only after obtaining an intimate 
knowledge of actual conditions. Such knowledge depends 
upon the collection of the proper data. 

These two activities can be made to aid each other. As 
the knowledge of various phases of the subject is obtained 
it is advisable to publish, from time to time, separate re- 
ports which will supplement the work in publicity and 
gradually acquaint the public with the conditions en- 
countered, so that when the time comes for the next step 
there will be an enlightened public opinion prepared to 
judge of its value in view of the facts. 

This next step is the presentation of a tentative plan. 
Properly prepared for by previous reports, this can be 
intelligently discussed. Had the publicity work not been 
done, the immediate effect of this plan would have been too 
staggering for complete comprehension. 

Included in the data minutely studied in the preparation 
of the plan would be the financial condition of the munici- 
pality, and this first plan would roughly provide for the 
financial transactions necessary for its fulfilment. 

When the tentative plan has been canvassed and revised, 
the final plan should be prepared and presented in the form 
of a program of procedure whereby the whole may be com- 
pleted within a given period. This would anticipate a 
certain amount of work to be accomplished during each 
year and would be accompanied by a detailed program of 
the financial transactions incident to the accomplishment of 
the completed plan. 

To conclude, it has been the aim of the speaker to present 
such answers to the questionnaire received from the com- 



mittee in charge of this work as have suggested themselves 
with particular reference to the experience of the Newark 
City Plan Commission. As in all work it is impossible 
to accomplish desirable things without here and there an 
occasional error, I do not hold the Newark City Plan Com- 
mission up to you as a model of virtue. I do say this, 
however: if city planning agencies can convince the citizen 
public that the improvements which they know are desirable 
can more properly be obtained in a practical and systematic 
manner, which is most heartily our aim in Newark, and 
furthermore, if these agencies can assist such accomplish- 
ment, their usefulness can never be questioned, and hence 
the American municipality will know less of chaos, ineffi- 
ciency and politics and more of dignity and amenity. 

Alfred Bettman, Esq., Cmcvrmati, Ohio: 

Dr. Whitten and Mr. Adams have raised an issue, and a 
very interesting issue, as to whether or not city planning 
activities should be imposed on a municipality or voluntarily 
assumed by it, and whether the execution of city plan- 
ning activity shall repose exclusively in municipal author- 
ities or partly in municipal and partly in state and national 
authorities; and of course each of the contestants feels 
that he has given the correct and only correct formula in 
the matter. 

I believe the truth is that in this, as in all other political 
questions, there is no system or device which is always and 
necessarily the right one for all communities at all times 
or even at all times for any particular community, but that 
the situation in any particular city or state or nation at 
a particular time is the result of an historical development 
which has produced certain particular evils or defects at 
that time, and these need a particular remedy ; whereas an- 
other community with a different situation due to a different 
historical action or development suffers from evils which 
demand some other remedy. 

Now whatever may be true of England or Canada, in 


certain portions of the United States at least a very full 
measure of home rule, a very full measure of municipal free- 
dom from state control is, at this particular time and in 
the particular situation in which the developed American 
communities now find themselves, necessary to eradicate 
existing defects. 

To be a little more concrete, I will take my own state of 
Ohio, in which conditions may differ from those of other 
states, but whose conditions I may discuss freely without 
danger of discourtesy to other communities. 

It is a highly developed industrial community with many 
large cities presenting peculiarly American municipal prob- 
lems. At the same time, however, its state government has 
a rather rural point of view or attitude. That is an his- 
torical development, due to the fact that Ohio was for so 
long a time a highly developed agricultural state, and its 
state institutions were modeled upon the past predominat- 
ing agricultural conditions. Although the cities contain a 
majority of population, the rural communities control a 
majority of the state legislature, by means of a very unique 
and apparently unbreakable provision of the state constitu- 
tion. State officers, accustomed to more rural conditions, 
are constantly shocked over the amounts of money expended 
by municipalities and seek to devise means of restricting 
municipal activities. Without going into too much detail, 
it may be said that there has developed in state administra- 
tions a rather rural point of view toward city problems, a 
failure to be conscious of the intensity and importance of 
those city problems and of the necessity of correcting the 
evils of city life by strong and generally expensive commu- 
nity action. In such a situation it is necessary for the cities 
to free themselves, to educate themselves as to what is neces- 
sary to the development of better conditions in cities. Pos- 
sibly when a stage has been reached at which the cities shall 
have freed themselves, shall have devised a machinery for 
self-education and self-development in city planning mat- 
ters, perhaps when that situation is reached, certain new 



defects or evils will also have developed as a by-product 
of the home rule enjoyed by the cities, and it may be that 
these evils will in future need correction by state action. 
But in just the present situation in a state like Ohio, where 
large industrial cities have grown rapidly, but still the 
communities are old enough and settled long enough to 
have developed numerous and' powerful private property 
interests — which distinguishes them from the conditions 
in the Canadian West, for instance, where the private prop- 
erty interests are not so complex and numerous and highly 
developed — in such a situation as that in which Ohio 
cities find themselves, a very large measure of home rule 
is absolutely essential, and each city must itself learn to 
want city planning and itself have the determination of 
whether there shall be city planning and what sort and how 

With that point of view we have just written, and the 
Ohio legislature has just passed, a city planning act, the 
first piece of city planning legislation in the state of Ohio 
other than city planning sections of a few municipal char- 
ters. This statute contains a mixture of voluntary and 
involuntary features and really turns out to be quite along 
the line of Dr. Whitten's recommendations. It provides 
that any city may decide for itself whether it wants a city 
planning commission. Once it has decided upon a city 
planning commission, that commission's work and that com- 
mission's plans have some legal force. In order to get con- 
tinuity, more continuity than would result from a change 
of personnel in the commission every two years as we change 
the personnel of our city administration, the term of com- 
missioners has been made six years. The customary device 
of a mixture of official and citizen members of commission 
has been followed. 

Until the planning commission shall have developed a 
complete plan of the city, it has no powers other than ad- 
visory powers. Once, however, it has formed its plan, then 
the commission will become practically a department of the 



city government; for from that time its consent is neces- 
sary to the location of any public improvement or public 
utility, unless its refusal to consent is overridden by two- 
thirds of the city legislative department, together with that 
part of the city administration which is in charge of the 
construction of the peculiar kind of improvement that is 
under discussion. So that it really becomes, practically 
speaking, a department of the city government whose con- 
sent is necessary to the location of all structures affecting 
the public, unless there is an overwhelming contrary opin- 
ion on the part of the executive and legislative departments 
of the city. 

Now we believe that legislation corresponds to the par- 
ticular situation of Ohio municipalities today. It may not 
fit a situation such as Western Canada, where new cities 
are just being built. It would perhaps not be a logical 
piece of legislation in Great Britain, where the imperial 
legislature meets in the midst of the most intensive urban 
environment in the whole country and represents or at 
least is largely permeated with an urban point of view. 
But in the situation which exists in all the older portions 
of the United States, such a piece of legislation at least 
answers the present development and enables some prog- 
ress in city planning. And that progress will disclose what 
further steps shall prove to be necessary in order to deal 
adequately with the particular future conflicts and prob- 
lems that municipal life and growth may produce. 

Mr. Frederick Law Olmsted, Boston: 

Dr. Whitten made clear the reasons why it is necessary 
for the sake of administrative efficiency and unification that 
the final responsibility in city planning should rest upon 
the central governing body of the city. Mr. Brockway, 
from a slightly different point of view, made the same point 
clear. This may be effected in various ways: either by 
making the city planning office a subordinate bureau of the 
central administrative authority, or with a quasi-independ- 



ent city planning commission by giving them merely a 
suspensory veto over the decisions of the central adminis- 
trative authority. 

On the other hand it was pointed out that there is diffi- 
culty in maintaining that continuity of purpose which is 
so vitally important in city planning if the final respon- 
sibility thus rests upon a municipal authority subject to 
frequent changes of personnel, changes which depend upon 
political considerations that are not usually connected with 
any question of city plan policy. A new administration, 
elected upon an issue which has nothing to do with city 
planning, may hastily overturn a policy deliberately estab- 
lished and long maintained by the city planning office with 
the approval of preceding administrations. 

When a plan is once officially adopted as the city plan, 
when a certain policy is developed by the city plan office 
and adopted by the responsible city government after due 
deliberation, there should be, for the sake of continuity and 
steadiness of purpose, some check upon its too easy over- 
turn, without impairing the subordination of the city 
planning office to the responsible city government. One 
method would be to require that such an overturn of policy 
or change of an adopted plan must receive the approval of 
some independent authority quite external to the munici- 
pality, corresponding to the Local Government Board in 
Great Britain or the state officials who act in Germany as 
a board of appeal in regard to changes in established city 

Having spoken of this desirable form of negative control 
over local city planning by state authorities, let me add a 
word about positive control. 

Mr. Brockway spoke of the difficulty of imposing on our 
cities uniform state regulations for the control of city 
planning. He cited the case of the New York state housing 
law against which there was a reaction because it was 
thought by the cities that it imposed too much regulation 
upon them from above, and he seemed to suggest the alterna- 



tive of a complete home rule in such matters, leaving action 
wholly to local initiative. In that connection it is interest- 
ing to cite what Mr. Adams pointed out as taking place 
in Canada, where all of the municipalities of a certain 
province have had a few fundamental standards in city 
planning fixed for them from above, but aside from these 
standards have been given as much latitude as possible in 
adjusting their planning to local needs and preferences. 
In Massachusetts a state-wide building law has been framed 
which, under most of its headings, gives a wide range of 
local option to the towns and cities of the state in fixing 
the standards to be required of builders, but which includes 
certain mandatory requirements applicable throughout the 
state, such as permissible loads upon a given type of beam 
for example. Standards not dependent on local conditions 
are then fixed by the state, and for the sake of convenience 
in the use of the various local codes uniform methods of 
statement for the definition of certain other standards are 
prescribed by the state, although the filling in of the blanks 
with actual figures is left for local decision. Is this not 
the way to proceed in framing city planning laws? 

Mr. M. N. Baker, New York: 

I am interested in this subject at all times, and particu- 
larly so just now because I have been asked, as a member 
of the Municipal Program Committee of the National Mu- 
nicipal League, to draw a very brief city planning section 
of a model city charter. The problem is to embody in the 
small compass of a section of a short charter something 
which will be sufficiently broad and elastic to fit cities large 
and small throughout the whole country. 

It seems imperative to have the city planning authority 
thoroughly coordinated with the other branches of the 
city government and subordinate to the city council or 

To secure this coordination the city engineer should be 
a member of the city planning commission, possibly also 



the director or commissioner of public works, and since 
there is so close a relation between health and city planning, 
there is reason for having the administrative health officer 
a member of the city planning commission. Finally, I wish 
to invite this conference to cooperate with the National 
Municipal League committee in its attempt to draft a 
city planning section of a model city charter. 

Mr. Marshall R. Pugh, Philadelphia: 

Mr. Baker has spoken of the work that the National 
Municipal League is doing in regard to framing a general 
city charter. This league may possibly give help and 
light to some of us who are struggling in very considerable 
gloom over the problems involved where city planning and 
suburban planning touch each other — that species of twi- 
light zone which surrounds the city, neither city nor coun- 
try, the commuting district. 

I think we are too apt to forget the fact that a modern 
city differs from the old-time city not merely in degree, but 
in kind. Carlyle speaks of Fortunatus and his wishing hat, 
which, when he clapped it on his head and wished he were 
anywhere, behold! he was there. Modern transportation 
has practically put us in the position of Fortunatus. It 
has utterly changed the whole development of cities and 
their character of growth. 

In a metropolitan community there is a central section, 
the city proper. Radiating from this along the various 
transportation lines, like spokes of a wheel, are densely 
populated strips and clusters of suburban villages. Be- 
tween these lie farms and frequently more or less rugged 
hills and valleys unsuitable for urban development, which 
will for a long period of time remain rural. 

The territory surrounding Philadelphia furnishes a typi- 
cal example. The zone under the jurisdiction of the Subur- 
ban Metropolitan Planning Commission comprises 200 
towns, townships, boroughs and cities — 200 district po- 
litical entities, all of them working more or less at cross 



purposes. Along one of the radial strips just mentioned 
are some 20 towns side by side, some of them completely 
surrounded by others. So closely are they crowded to- 
gether that their problems of sewage disposal are incapable 
of solution by any one of them. Coordinated action is 
essential, but they have been attempting to get this for the 
past eight or ten years and seem no nearer to the goal than 
they were at the start. Highways and numerous other 
questions are also involved. 

Yet we must not lose sight of the fact that local self- 
government is important, and town planning is but one of 
a number of desirable things. In our zeal, while we may 
not overestimate its importance, we are apt to underrate 
other matters of grave consequence. 

In Pennsylvania we are confronted with constitutional 
difficulties, which I apprehend would be the case in a num- 
ber of other states as well. 

One of these troubles is to find a constitutional method 
of raising funds. Another obstacle encountered is the diffi- 
culty of inducing the various local authorities to work to- 
gether, so that comprehensive action can be taken, and the 
apparent impossibility of legally applying a certain degree 
of compulsion, which would seem to be necessary to achieve 
any marked results. 

Mr. T. S. Morris, Hamilton, Out. : 

I would like to ask whether in the composition of the city 
planning board it is better to have the majority of the 
board composed of city officials or of representative citi- 
zens. I would like to have Dr. Whitten answer that ques- 
tion if he will be good enough. 

Dr. Whitten: 

Whether, in the case of a city planning commission made 
up partly of official and partly of non-official members, the 
majority representation should be given to the official or 
to the non-official members may depend a great deal upon 



the particular city. I have said that in organizing a city 
planning authority existing officials should be used so far 
as practicable. The proportion of official members will 
therefore vary in different cities. Only a few of those who 
answered the questionnaire stated any preference in regard 
to this particular matter, but those few stated that they 
believed that the non-official members should constitute a 
majority of the commission. 

Ma joe Joseph W. Shieley, Baltimore: 

One question that seems to be troubling most cities, as 
brought out in this morning's discussion, is: What should 
constitute the personnel of a commission on city plan? 
This seems to be a question on which there may be an honest 
difference of opinion and, I am sure, will not be settled at 
this Conference and probably not at the next Conference. 
While this question is being discussed the cities of the 
country are growing, some of them very rapidly, and I 
cannot help saying a word or two on what can be done in 
connection with a city plan while this question of the com- 
mission is being thrashed out. 

No time should be lost by any city in working out a plan. 
Until some careful supervision is given to what is going on 
in the sections now being developed, much correction will 
be necessary after we have obtained what we might think to 
be a model method of working out a city plan. 

There are several points that I might mention which we 
have found to be very useful in Baltimore and which may 
help many cities likewise. About twenty-three years ago 
Baltimore annexed quite an area to its limits and realized 
that the best way to know just what it had acquired was to 
obtain a complete topographical survey and map of this 
territory. This Baltimore did by making a liberal appro- 
priation, and the results obtained, I am sure, justified the 

Every city, before it is able to study properly the terri- 
tory to be developed, should have a complete topographical 



map. This it takes time to make and, therefore, should be 
begun as soon as possible, in order to have it completed 
by the time the commission necessary to carrying out a plan 
is ready. 

Upon the completion of Baltimore's topographical map 
the Topographical Survey Commission, the department 
which had prepared the map, was directed by the mayor 
and city council to prepare a street plan covering the area 
lately acquired, and after studying the situation a tentative 
plan was adopted by the city. In order to carry out this 
plan of streets the city of Baltimore called upon the state 
legislature to pass an act which was substantially as fol- 
lows — that no street or avenue could be condemned or 
opened nor could the city accept the deed or dedication of 
any street or avenue unless the same conformed with the 
general plan of streets which had been adopted or was in 
accordance with an amendment to the general plan. An 
amendment to the plan could only be made by the joint ap- 
proval of the Topographical Survey Commission and the 
mayor and city council. This act was passed by the legis- 
lature and has been in force for a number of years. It has 
served the city very well in carrying out the street plan. 
Smooth sailing has not always been the case, but in all 
controversies the city has accomplished what it feels was 

The carrying out of this street plan necessarily keeps the 
city in close touch with the land developer, who soon under- 
stands that should he lay out a street on his own property, 
which of course he has a right to do, unless the location of 
that street conforms to the city's plan, it must be main- 
tained by him as a private street. This being the case, he 
stops to think before doing so, to determine whether it is 
not better for him to have the city's endorsement of his 
plan, with an opportunity to turn over to the city his street 
bed as a public street, than to maintain for the balance of 
time a private street, which, of necessity, will be a source of 
expense and trouble to him. The purchaser of the proper- 



ties bordering along this street also prefers being on a 
street which is cared for by the city rather than on one 
cared for by a private individual. 

We have found that these conferences with the real estate 
developers have been mutually beneficial, and we believe that 
the city of Baltimore, through its Topographical Survey 
Commission, has gained the confidence of most land de- 
velopers and that the results obtained by frequent consulta- 
tions have been very satisfactory. 

It is to these three points that I wish to call the atten- 
tion of the members of the conference, for I feel sure that 
with action along this line much may be accomplished. 

Mr. Morris: 

May I ask who you mean by " we " ? You say " we " 
can do so and so. " We " can accomplish so and so. Who 
do you mean by " we "? I mean before the commission is 

Major Shirley: 

I will explain in this way : by referring to " we " I mean 
the Topographical Survey Commission, which, as stated 
above, was the commission formed to prepare the map and 
to which, after the map was completed, powers were dele- 
gated to prepare a street plan and to supervise the carry- 
ing of it out. This commission is composed of the mayor, 
the city comptroller and the city register, who employ a 
chief engineer and the necessary force for making surveys, 
plans, etc. The personnel of this commission changes of 
course with the different administrations. 

Mr. John Nolen, Cambridge: 

I want to give a word of endorsement to what seems to 
me to be the advantages of a mandatory law as against a 
permissive law in the case of city plan commissions. Of 
course if we can get the cities, as Mr. Adams suggested, 
demanding this mandatory law, it is without question very 



much more effective. But in watching things in Massachu- 
setts in the last five or six years, I have been very much 
impressed with the lack of initiative on the part of the 
cities, as compared with what happened when some require- 
ment or direct stimulus came from the state. It was shown 
in the case of the playground referendum which the state 
law forced on the cities. We found, before that law was 
passed, that cities were doing comparatively little in the 
way of the playground movement. The law simply re- 
quired that cities and towns should put the referendum to 
the vote of the people; as soon as it was put to the vote 
of the people it was passed by all except two of the cities 
and towns of the state which were required to act upon it. 
As the result a great many playgrounds were established. 
In other words, apparently this force did not express itself 
in cities and towns without the state law. We have seen 
something of the same sort with regard to housing both in 
towns and cities. 

Now we have the city planning mandatory law in Massa- 
chusetts. Take a city like Cambridge, which I think would 
not have established a city planning commission on its own 
initiative, and did it under the state law in a reluctant 
and perfunctory way. Now Cambridge is getting genuinely 
interested in the subject because it has discovered that city 
planning is something rather different from what is was 
believed to be. 

With regard to another point : the question of the veto 
power of planning boards or the method of sustaining 
action by the planning board as against the city govern- 
ment. The Metropolitan (Boston) Planning Commission 
which worked out a proposed law held a good many public 
hearings in order to get the views on this question of the 
38 towns and cities round about Boston, asking them what 
should be the action, in case a planning board were created, 
in enforcing a decision. I think I am right in my recollec- 
tion that the majority view was that the result could best 
be obtained by what was called a suspensive veto; that is, 



if any action were taken contrary to a proposed plan or 
project, the planning board, in this case Metropolitan — 
the principle, however, is the same — would have the right 
to compel a suspension of action for a given period. Six 
months was suggested and a year was suggested. This 
came as a suggestion from the people who were going to 
suffer or be restrained, so the planning board finally ac- 
cepted it as a form satisfactory to the local bodies. 

From observation of city planning in Massachusetts and 
in Pennsylvania I have come to believe in the state authority 
and feel strongly the advantage of a central state body 
helping more than controlling the local bodies. The Massa- 
chusetts Homestead Commission has more than justified 
its existence. 

If I may, I should like to ask two questions of Dr. 
Whitten. In the subject of the art jury, the proposed 
separation of the art jury from a local planning board in 
which there are great advantages, I was wondering how 
you could work out the functions so that the art jury would 
be distinct from the planning board, in the case, for ex- 
ample, of what it was good to do in the location of build- 
ings in a civic center or in the matter of a design of a 
park. In other words, that I may make myself clear, 
should such decision be left to the action of the art jury, 
assuming both bodies exist, or to the planning board? 
Where should the line be drawn? What should be recog- 
nized as art judgment and what as planning judgment? 

The other question is whether there was any evidence in 
the returns from the committee's questionnaire to help in 
judging whether under the city commission form of govern- 
ment, in the case of a small city (I mean a city of 100,000 
people or under), whether the city commission, giving all 
its time to city government, would form an effective city 
planning commission itself. That is what is happening 
in Sacramento today. Sacramento has a city govern- 
ment with a city commission of five men, which has con- 
stituted itself the city planning authority and is work- 



ing with great smoothness and success in getting plans 
made and in carrying out promptly everything approved. 

Db. Whitten: 

First, as to the question of the differentiation of powers 
of the art jury and the city planning commission in the 
case of (1) a design of a park and (2) the location of 
public buildings. The art jury should have no control 
over the design of a park. A park design should be con- 
trolled by the park commissioner, subject to approval as 
to certain features by the city plan authority. In the case 
of the location of public buildings the question of differ- 
entiation of powers is more difficult. The city plan au- 
thority should have control over the location of a public 
building. The art commission should have control over 
the design of the building and its immediate setting or 

As regards the commission form of government and a 
city planning commission, I have no definite information, 
but my impression would be that in a small city having 
the commission form of government the commission could 
act as an effective city planning authority. 

The question raised in regard to compensation for build- 
ings within the street lines is very important. The diverse 
experience of Pennsylvania and New York in this matter 
is interesting. In New York City for a long time the law 
provided there should be no compensation for buildings 
erected within the lines of the street subsequent to the 
mapping of the street. The New York court upheld this 
method. Subsequently, however, a new constitution was 
adopted with the usual guaranties of property rights. A 
new case came before the courts, and under the guaranties 
contained in the new constitution the disallowance of 
damages for buildings within the street lines was held to be 
invalid. It is interesting to note that the Pennsylvania de- 
cision upholding the power to deny compensation for build- 
ings within street lines refers to the first New York case 



as an authority on this subject, but makes no reference to 
the subsequent New York case which reversed the former 
policy. I wish Mr. Thomas Adams were here so that he 
could inform us how this particular matter is treated in 
carrying out the Town Planning Act of Great Britain. It 
seems to me that some extension of our city planning powers 
so as to include a procedure similar to that of the English 
Town Planning Act is necessary in order to secure adher- 
ence to the street lines laid down by the city plan. 

Mr. Adams has raised the question of a tentative plan 
versus a final plan. It is admitted by all, however, that 
in the case of a great city it is necessary to start with 
a tentative plan for the entire metropolitan district. The 
complete final plan for a great city cannot be adopted at 
any one time. It must be taken up, considered and adopted 
in sections. Before the final plan for any particular sec- 
tion is adopted there should, however, be a tentative com- 
prehensive plan for the entire area; otherwise there can 
be no correlation between the different sections. 

Mr. Baker has brought to our attention the important 
work of the National Municipal League in drafting a 
municipal program and including as a part thereof a sec- 
tion on city planning. I believe that the Committee on 
Administrative Procedure of this Conference could very well 
cooperate with Mr. Baker in this important work. The 
Committee on Administrative Procedure should, I think, 
follow up the work begun at this session with a definite 
formulation of a comprehensive legislative program for 
city planning. 

Mr. Joseph Johnson, Philadelphia: 

I have first in mind the question of the comprehensive 
plan. A comprehensive plan was suggested for Philadel- 
phia, and in the southern part of the city has been worked 
out and a portion has been confirmed, and we are now 
waiting to see what is going to come out of it. We are 
actually on trial at the present time. We have had great 



opposition to it, and the balance of the plan in that section 
is now up for confirmation with great opposition. We do 
not know what will happen. 

In relation to our parkway from the City Hall to Fair- 
mount Park, the question was raised as to the immediate 
taking of the property, and because the courts would not 
allow this they went to the legislature and attempted to 
have the whole planning system of the city of Philadelphia 
wiped out, and wiped out immediately. We had to go to the 
legislature and fight it, and we won out with some little 
compromise and with a bill that is now before the governor 
for his signature, which covers parks and parkways as to 
their taking in the central portion of the city. We still 
retain our plans as to the street system in the city of 
Philadelphia, and we can continue to adopt them and add 
to them. 

Also, I wanted to speak about the placing of intermediate 
streets upon the plan. We have the right to place addi- 
tional streets upon the plan (intermediate streets). We 
do place the intermediate streets on the city plan and are 
rather liberal in our views. We have to be a little liberal 
to the builder and we have to cater to him to a certain ex- 
tent. He is the man who is investing his money. There- 
fore we do not get all of our intermediate streets as we 
would like to have them. It is a source of a great deal of 
annoyance and trouble in the city, but we are getting a 
little more stringent in our rules as to placing these streets, 
on account of the size of the lot. There has been consider- 
able contention in our board, particularly of late years, a 
number of members contending that lots should be at least 
50 feet in depth. 

Our board also has the right to place parks upon the 
city plan upon receiving authority from council. We 
place streets on the city plan and confirm them, and the 
owner waits until such time as the city is financially able 
to pay for them or they are dedicated. 



Mr. J. C. Murphy, Louisville: 

There has been a good deal said here about independent 
commissions. I would like to call your attention to the 
system that prevails in Louisville. We have the ordinary 
city government composed of the mayor, aldermen and 
councilmen, but when any large work is undertaken an in- 
dependent commission is appointed for that work. We 
have also continuous commissions, one for governing our 
parks, another for our libraries. In order to get contin- 
uity in the work of these commissions they are generally 
composed of four men, one appointed each year for a four 
year term. The mayor is ex officio a member of each of 
these commissions and has only as much power as any other 
commissioner and of course no power of veto. He has only 
the power of voting in case of a tie. Also, to control those 
commissions, the funds that are supplied to them for car- 
rying on their work is voted by the council. The council 
in that way controls them, but they act independently in 
all other respects. 

Another point that was raised that I may call attention 
to. We have a state law which gives the city power over 
a district within three miles of the city limits for the pur- 
pose of platting. The city has a veto power in case the 
district lies inside of the city limits, the power being exer- 
cised by the board of public works. But in districts that 
are outside of the city but within the three mile limit the 
veto power is jointly in our board of public works and 
the judge of our county court, which is the governing body 
of the district in the county that is outside of the city 

No plat can be recorded in our court of record without 
having received the approval, when it lies inside of the city, 
of the board of public works ; when outside of the city, the 
board of public works and the county judge jointly. 

Mr. Louis Lott, Dayton, Ohio 

In regard to the city commission taking over the func- 
tions of the city planning board. As far as I know 



our own city commissioners of Dayton, I have heard 
their tales of woe from time to time, they are so overbur- 
dened with work; and you must remember that these are 
private business men and devote only a part of their time, 
and at that a very great part of it for a very small com- 
pensation. I am sure I speak for them; if the duty of a 
town planning board was imposed upon them, they would 
certainly object. My own opinion about the city planning 
board is that it would be to the best advantage of all con- 
cerned to get the best material, either officially or unof- 
ficially, that you happen to have in a city, and as few com- 
missioners as possible to make the thing work right and 

Mr. A. A. Stoughton, WiTmipeg: 

As to the composition of commissions, it may be interest- 
ing to know what has been done in Winnipeg. There the 
commission is composed entirely of men outside of the official 
circle, except that the city surveyor is a member. Being 
the custodian of all of the maps and records, it is very con- 
venient to refer to him, and the meetings are held in his 
office ; the members are thus in close touch with the physical 
plan of the city. The members are chosen for their pro- 
fessions — an engineer, an architect, a real estate man, the 
president of the Town Planning Association, a former 
mayor and the city surveyor. The idea is, I think, that 
any of the city officials is too busy to put his mind on the 
details of a " plan," although they are always welcome at the 
meetings. The members of the commission, except the city 
surveyor, have as their sole municipal function the study 
and furtherance of the city plan. They keep in close touch 
with the city officials and go to them constantly, and the 
latter know what is being done, and the most cordial re- 
lations obtain between the commission and the Board of 
Control and Council and the mayor and others composing 
our city administration. The commission has no authority ; 
it simply is an advisory body, but it is gradually develop- 



ing a comprehensive plan and is taking up one feature after 
another, working it out and then submitting it, usually in- 
formally, to the officials and finally officially. 

In regard to art commissions, we have none, but we were 
very much gratified recently by having the Board of Con- 
trol, of its own motion, refer to the plan commission the 
matter of four bridges for which the city was then making 
plans and ask the commission to cooperate with the bridge 
engineer in supplying the architectural treatment of 
those bridges. A precedent was thus set in the direc- 
tion of municipal art control, or of including the func- 
tion, at least temporarily, in the one body connected with 
the city that is more or less technically and esthetically 

Mr. Olmsted: 

I should like to go back again to the point which has 
been touched upon several times before, in regard to the 
powers of the city planning authority for enforcing the 
plan. The Pennsylvania method which was touched on by 
Mr. Johnson is in some respects like the German method. 
It apparently relies on the police power to prevent erection 
of buildings on land designated for future use in streets, 
since no provision is made for compensation until the land 
is actually put to use by the public, although in the mean- 
time the use of the land is limited just as if an easement 
had been acquired by the city. In carrying out and en- 
forcing a city planning scheme one must rely upon two 
powers, the police power and the power of eminent domain. 
In regard to a great many provisions of a complete city 
plan it is obvious that they can justly and reasonably be 
enforced under the police power and without any obligation 
for the city to compensate individuals for damages. When 
I say justly and reasonably I am not thinking about con- 
stitutional limitations, but about the general sense of jus- 
tice in the community. You may change constitutional 
provisions, but as Mr. Adams pointed out the other day, 



you cannot systematically violate the public sense 
of justice and " get away with it M in a democratic 

Now we may and we should utilize the police power for 
placing reasonable limitations upon the height or the ex- 
tent, the character and the use of buildings upon private 
land, all property of a given character being subjected 
to the same control. Other parts of the city plan can be 
safeguarded in a similar way under the police power. But 
when we attempt without compensation to prevent a man 
from building within the limits of a proposed public im- 
provement which is a part of a city plan to be executed at 
some indefinite time in the future, we are liable, in extreme 
cases, completely to destroy the value of his property, while 
indefinitely postponing compensation. The limits of the 
proposed improvement may include the whole of his prop- 
erty, and the property may have no value except for build- 
ing purposes. To prevent that man for an indefinite length 
of time from utilizing that property and to pay him nothing 
is generally and rightly regarded as confiscation. What- 
ever the state of the law, even in Pennsylvania, the practice 
is unfair. I wish to point out that these cases can be 
equitably dealt with under the power of eminent domain, 
by the use of betterment assessment — a more extended use 
than we have been accustomed to, but without any change 
of principle. In order to preserve its future welfare the 
city may take an easement covering land included within 
a proposed public improvement which gives it the right to 
require the removal, at some future time, of any structures 
which may have been erected upon the land in question 
after the acquirement of the easement. For such an ease- 
ment the owner of the land must in fairness be compensated, 
but that compensation can and should be distributed over 
that part of the city the future welfare of which is safe- 
guarded by the taking of that easement, whether it is for a 
future street or for any other public purpose; and if the 
owner of the land on which the easement was acquired is 



also the owner of other land in the area of benefit, his 
assessment may equal the payment to him for the easement. 

Chairman Crawford: 

We have had a good deal of experience with this matter 
in Pennsylvania. All our street extensions have been made 
under the police power by preventing building within the 
lines of plotted streets. There has been little or no oppo- 
sition to it or complaint of it except in a few individual 
cases. Theoretically I agree with Mr. Olmsted. Owners 
should not be prevented from using their property or alter- 
ing it over an indefinite period, and cities are often slow 
in putting through streets which have been long plotted 
on a plan. We trace the attempt to wipe out the whole 
system of city planning in Philadelphia to this restraint 
on the use of property without compensation. We defeated 
the attempt by a sort of compromise. The provision now 
is that a park or parkway in a built-up section may be 
plotted on our city plan and may stay there for five years, 
at the end of which time if the city has not acted sooner the 
land plotted for a park becomes automatically owned by 
the city. It is purchased and opened. Of course condem- 
nation proceedings may delay the actual conclusion of the 
matter two or three years more. The act which resulted 
from this compromise is now before the governor. 

Mr. Arthur C. Comey, Cambridge: 

The experience in Massachusetts is rather negative. It 
bears on this point very directly, though. We have in 
Massachusetts a building line law which provides for com- 
pensation under the power of eminent domain. The only 
question comes whether the compensation shall be paid at 
the time the building line is established or when the lot 
is actually taken; that and several other bad features in 
the law have resulted in so much mix-up as to when the 
actual damage is to be assessed that the law has not been 
used to any great extent. Several cases have been decided 



under it, and it is a valuable proceeding. I think that the 
matter of condemnation for this purpose is very important, 
and I believe in it thoroughly. But all those good things 
have their bad side. The difficulty for most cities would 
be that if they established a series of building lines of this 
sort, for instance if they established an entire district and 
city plan by building lines, if the damages were not assessed 
until the property was actually taken — or until the build- 
ing permits were requested, as Dr. Whitten has suggested — 
the city would not know how far it had attempted to obli- 
gate itself and would not know how deeply in its pocket it 
would have to go at any time to take these properties. And 
as the city is generally not deemed to be able to bind it- 
self for future years, this principle has been rendered rather 
difficult of application. On the other hand, if you condemn 
the right to build at the time you adopt the city plan, you 
get into a good deal of expenditure for nothing on the 
surface, simply the right to open up in the future. 

The other point I wish to bring up is the matter of state 
planning and the state supervision of plans. In Massa- 
chusetts, as you know, the Homestead Commission is an ad- 
visory board as far as planning is concerned. It reports 
on legislation and assists local boards in so far as it can. 
It is not an executive commission at the present. The 
situation is a great deal different from what it is in De- 
troit or any of the western cities, where there is a large 
belt outside of the city of rural country or township coun- 
try. All Massachusetts and all New England are cut up 
entirely among the organized towns and cities, and each 
one of those, the larger ones at least, has its own board. 
Therefore we get a direct conflict. The city of Lawrence, 
which has 90,000 people, really spreads over neighboring 
towns, several of them — there are three neighboring towns, 
one of which has 11,000 and its own planning board — 
finds it is absolutely unable to control its own development 
outside of city limits. Therefore it seems very desirable 
that we should have some coordinating body, particularly 



in Massachusetts, which has a very high density of pop- 
ulation. Further, ultimately in a state like Massachu- 
setts at least, where the density is second only to Rhode 
Island and less than but two of the smallest European 
countries, we should have a state plan to which town plans 
would conform. We have fragments of state plans for 
highways and some of those things, but there is no coor- 
dination between departments. The whole matter should 
be coordinated, particularly in the matter of highways and 
state parks. A very valuable report came out last year, 
the Connecticut State Park System, and I recommend to 
those who have not seen it that they should read it. It 
treats the subject very broadly and very practically. It 
shows that in Connecticut, which is the third state in the 
Union in density, unless they move very quickly the people 
will have absolutely no place to go for recreation. 

Hon. Edward M. Bassett: 

I presume that the state of New York is about as con- 
servative as any state along this important matter of pre- 
venting the use for private purposes of land within the 
lines of a plotted street, and when you think how far that 
conservative position goes under the decisions of our courts, 
you can see how we would all wish to be as far along as 
Pennsylvania in the willingness of its courts to recognize 
some sanctity to those places laid out within mapped lines. 
Mr. Crawford properly puts much emphasis upon the need 
of some such safeguard. In the state of New York the 
entire future city plan is imperiled by the lack of it. 

Let us say that an outlying part of the Borough of 
Queens needs a boulevard. It is put on the city map, but 
since all mapped streets have no recognized sanctity, it is 
an invitation for builders to erect their buildings within 
the mapped lines in order that the opening of the street 
will bring a condemnation award to them out of which 
they hope to make a profit. I have in mind today in 
Queens a location where an important street joins a boule- 



vard running to Rockaway, and as the street is not open 
all the way to the boulevard, the builder is erecting some 
structures right in the course of the proper extension of 
the street to the boulevard. Our courts have been very firm 
in preserving full right of use of private property. There 
is a group of us in New York, some in Buffalo, Syracuse 
and some of our other large cities pressing toward the ac- 
complishment of some relief either by interpretation of 
the constitution or by amendment of it. 

Mr. B. Moses, Scranton, Pa.: 

We have in Scranton adopted a plan which works very 
well that no street can be constructed and no building 
erected until referred to the planning commission. The 
planning commission recommends to the council and the 
council almost unanimously does what we recommend. 
When the commission was established in Scranton two years 
ago we had only small playgrounds around the school- 
houses, but inside of three months we will have one public 
playground for which $25,000 has been appropriated. In 
the matter of heights of buildings, we have one building in 
the city 125 feet high, the next one is going to be 150 feet, 
but that is the limit. No one can build a building of any 
kind in our city higher than 150 feet. 




Charles Moore, Toastmaster 
Chairman Commission of Fine Arts 

President Wilson, catching an apt phrase from Robert 
Louis Stevenson, has spoken of " the forward-looking 
men." The phrase applies most happily to city planners, 
for of all men they work for the future ; and plan as largely 
as they may, their plans will be too small before they are 

I am here to speed the parting guests. We have enjoyed 
having you here, and it is melancholy indeed to think that 
when the sun rises tomorrow morning we shall have left with 
us only Mr. Veiller, Mr. Ihlder and Miss Chadsey. To- 
morrow they will have put off their Cinderella robes and 
appear in the garb of ordinary housing experts. 

This Conference has established new records. The first 
record was broken by Mr. Lewis, an engineer who showed 
a genuine appreciation of architecture in matters of prac- 
tice. The engineer usually feels that he builds the structure 
and then turns it over to the architect to paste the orna- 
ments on it. 

Mr. Clipston Sturgis broke the second record. Appear- 
ing in his official capacity as president of the American 
Institute of Architects, Mr. Sturgis urged the exercise of 
common sense in city planning. His plea sounded like the 
first page of Descartes' " Treatise on Method," where we 
are told that everybody thinks he possesses common sense, 
and yet that quality is unique in the world. Mr. Shurtleff 
should make record of this in red ink on his slides, then 
Detroit would have the first place in something. 



And yet in spite of this fine record, you have come short 
of what was expected of you. When Mayor Marx de- 
parted, he said that he was leaving the Conference in Mr. 
Dust's hands with the confident expectation that by the 
time he returned the Belle Isle Bridge would be finished by 
this Conference. And Walter Campbell is disappointed 
that you did not put the fish in Isle a la Peche. 

You have been most diligent in your labors. Mr. Ninde 
and Mr. Ford have started a sales department that will 
place city planning on the bargain counter frequented by 
every editor in the land. You subdivided East Boston and 
Fort Wayne while the steamer " Ste. Claire " was subdivid- 
ing Lake Erie — probably with equal results. 

I dare say that you are somewhat disappointed in your 
visit to Detroit. Perhaps you were expecting that the sub- 
dividers would get a chance at one of those Ford surpluses 
of which you have heard so much. Don't go away with any 
misapprehension. A part of that surplus you have this 
evening consumed, along with those of the Packard, Cadil- 
lac and Chalmers, to say nothing of the Denby Truck. 
I hope they will agree with you as well as they seem to 
agree with our friend John Anderson, whose smiling face 
we welcome. 

Seriously speaking, you have done us good. You have 
come at a time when the people of Detroit have large prob- 
lems to solve. You stand for right solutions of municipal 
problems, and your influence will be felt not only here in 
Detroit, but throughout Michigan, whose cities are now 
taking up the task of fitting the municipalities to meet the 
commercial demands forced upon them by manifest destiny. 
So we have appreciated your coming, and we hope you will 
come again, when we have the new center of arts and letters, 
the new bridge to the island and the new Scott fountain 
and statue. 

When a young man was introduced to one of the prime 
ministers of England as a very modest young man, the 
minister said: " Ah, yes, and tell me please what the, young 



man has done to be modest about." That young man had 
not taken up city planning, because all city planners have 
something to be modest about. When Mayor Mitchel was 
introduced to the audience in San Francisco the other day, 
he said that it was said that he was the best exhibit that 
New York City had at the exposition. That means that 
the old days, the days of Tweed and others of that kind in 
New York City, have passed, and that for the most part — 
we will not say anything about occasional lapses — but 
for the most part that city is coming into the hands of ex- 
perts, and a number of those experts are here tonight, and 
among them is Mr. Bassett, whom I am going to call on as 
the first speaker of the evening. Mr. Bassett, who knows 
all about the heights of buildings and a good deal of how to 
get them regulated. 

Hon. Edward M. Bassett, Chairman Heights of Buildings 
Commission, New York City: 

This has been a most orderly conference. Things have 
gone along in the way that was fixed beforehand. All were 
here. President Olmsted was here with that beautiful 
crushed strawberry necktie, that we would miss if he did 
not bring it along, because that sets the pace. Mr. Ford 
down in New York once in a while appears at our city 
planning meetings in that fashion. We admire it. It is 
a bright spot in the landscape. The Three Guardsmen are 
here, Veiller, Crawford and Bennett. Brockway and I have 
been trying to break into that sacred band for the last two 
or three years without success. I made another try at a 
subterranean restaurant in this town, but looking at their 
well fed proportions, I suggested that it might be Thirty 
Years After. And I think that now I am doomed to outer 

Thomas Adams is here — with his wife this time. We 
always want you to come with Mr. Adams, Mrs. Adams. 
Nelson Lewis and Alfred Bettman, Ihlder, Nolen, Good- 
rich, Leavitt, Mulford Robinson of Rochester, Pond of 



Chicago, all are here. But Purdy is not here, and 
Purdy is what reminds me that this is such an orderly 

It was a little more than two years ago that Mr. Purdy 
telephoned me : " Bassett, they want you to prepare a 
paper." Oh, I was innocent. " They want you to pre- 
pare a paper on the subject of title to land for public uses, 
in a typical city " ; that is as near as I can remember it. It 
was one of those four hour subjects. Well I prepared the 
paper, and it took me about two months. I came on with 
the thing copied. I was told by Crawford that I could have 
just ten minutes. I said: " What do I do in ten minutes? " 
" Well," Crawford said, " you can't read your paper ; all 
you can do is just speak the gist of it." Well then I went 
to Shurtleff and I said: " What shall I do? " " Why," he 
said, " you just speak it and take all the time you want." 
Purdy was the presiding officer with the gavel. I went at 
it to speak it. I could have read it in twenty minutes if 
they would let me; I tried to speak it in ten minutes, and 
when I jogged along for three quarters of an hour, Purdy 
got impatient and nudged me to sit down. I dodged him 
once or twice, and then I sat down, and what do you think 
happened? Crawford was to be the first agitator of my 
subject. He held up a watch just like this. I had pulled 
out my watch that way and looked at it once in a while, 
so that the audience would know that I was cognizant of 
the time. Crawford pulled his watch out and he said : " I, 
too, have a watch." " But," he said, " J am going to respect 
my watch." 

Well that was not so bad. I could have stood that. 
But then he went on to say that the previous speaker 
had dwelt on the constitution. " These are not subjects 
for the constitution, gentlemen," he said. " The way to do 
is to disregard the constitution and go ahead and get re- 
sults." Well that made me feel bad, because in New York 
we people who had been trying to do city planning had 
learned to have some regard for the appellate courts, be- 



cause some way or other you cannot put things through 
those New York appellate courts very easily; and Craw- 
ford did get a jolt after a little while when he went back to 
Philadelphia. He was so proud of that Sulzburger decision 
that had disregarded the constitution. But the appellate 
courts got back at Crawford, and overturned the Sulz- 
burger decision, and I notice that our friend Crawford 
is here this year in a chastened spirit. He has n't tried 
to hold the clock on me and the constitution. 

Well I am used to quiet affairs, orderly conferences like 
this one. I live in Flatbush. Out in Flatbush we shovel 
our walks in the winter and we make our gardens in the 
summer, and we are quite different from those folks like 
Veiller, Goodrich and Ihlder, who live up in that marble 
palace district of Central Manhattan. I am not used to 
such strenuous times as we had in Chicago. If we had a 
quarter of an hour between sessions, George Hooker would 
say : " Come around to the City Club and we will have a 
conference on housing," or Bennett would get us out to 
see a street; and after I had been in the swirl for three 
days — and wanted nothing so much as to get to the quiet 
of Flatbush — as a final denouement I lost my hat. My 
friend Moses of Scranton reminded me of that the first 
day I came to this town and asked me whether I had had 
serious trouble hanging on to my hat since the Chicago 
convention. When I struck the train that night, I was in 
a damaged condition. 

Well in Detroit everything is so orderly. We started 
out on that automobile ride. I sat with the chauffeur in our 
car. As we slipped by things on the road, we qame to a 
grand palace where an army of workmen were landscape 
gardening, and the chauffeur said he owned that. We 
came by a skyscraper downtown, well, nearly as big as the 
Woolworth Building. He said he owned that. Pretty soon 
I learned he made about a million dollars a day. I had 
just told him that if he ever got out of a job, he could come 
down to our town, and we would give him two dollars a day, 



he was such a good chauffeur. That was Kresge of De- 
troit with branches in every large city. 

You people in Detroit, you take us visitors around with 
millionaire chauffeurs, and the town is ours. Campbell 
takes us out in his big boat; and after the town has been 
given to us, and all the Detroit River, he tries to give us 
Canada. But, after deciding that he was going to give us 
Canada, he found that he did not have clearance papers, 
so he could not deliver the key. 

I bring a greeting from New York to Detroit. The 
hospitality that you have shown to this Conference is over- 
whelming. Some of us have studied your problems as well 
as we could in a few days. New York has been through 
many of those problems. Every great industrial city must 
have regard to the welfare of its workingmen. It is 
economy. If a city gets five million people, as New York 
City is, and if a workingman is to have a family of 
five children and a wife — I will say a wife and five chil- 
dren — yes, the wife comes before the five children, that 
is why I changed the location of the wife. 

If a workingman is to have a wife and five children, he 
has got to be in a nearby place that will have a low rent, 
or else he has got to travel, in order to get a low rent, two 
or three hours of his waking time. That becomes a great 
problem in New York City. If a workingman must pay 
high rent, he cannot bring up a family in the crowded down- 
town districts of New York City near his work; and if he 
has to travel three hours every day, that is a drawback 
to his efficiency and he is worth less to his employer. 

Detroit can distribute its population in sunny homes 
within a brief distance of the workingman's place of work 
and at a low fare; this makes efficiency in manufacturing, 
and also helps to produce the families that will carry on 
the future work of the city. Such cities have an advantage 
over great cities like New York or London or Philadelphia. 
New York has to build subways at enormous expense in 
order to house its workingmen like Detroit. 



Now Detroit is getting to that point where it is one of 
the great cities of the world, and where it must more re- 
gard this matter of the welfare of the workingman's family 
than it did when it was a small city. Workingmen are 
living in crowded rooms right here in Detroit; and the re- 
sult will be bad for Detroit if it does not do something 
to help workingmen's families to spread out in sunny 
homes, where they can live near the earth, within a brief 
ride of their working places, and at a low fare. 

There is the problem that Detroit will soon have to face. 
These are halcyon days in Detroit- Your great factories 
are at the acme of their efficiency. Workingmen are near. 
But let your city increase twice what it is today and you 
will find that you will perhaps be outstripped by some 
smaller cities unless you provide for your workingmen. 

We congratulate Detroit on its magnificent position. 
But Detroit must profit by the lessons of the great cities 
of the world. London for forty years has been striving at 
enormous expense to get its workingmen into sunny homes, 
to abolish its depressed localities that have devoured fami- 
lies. And Detroit must do those things which will make 
this a wholesome, sunny city. We have been discussing 
these things upstairs, the opening up of diagonal streets, 
improved methods of transit, the better utilization of the 
water front, the best size of a city block. All these things 
have a relation to making a city a wholesome city for the 
future. And in a broad sense that is city planning work, 
the adaptation of a large group of human beings to their 
environment, so that they will be happy and efficient, so 
that they will increase and multiply and be as wholesome 
as country districts are. Until a city can do for the human 
race what small villages and country districts do for fami- 
lies, cities will not be performing their proper function. 
They will be devourers of families. 

Mr. McAneny, the acting mayor of New York, desired 
me to express his best wishes to all of his friends at this 
conference. Up to last week he hoped and expected to come, 

[ 207 ] 


but on account of having his own duties in addition to those 
of the mayor, and being overwhelmed with work, he was 
compelled to stay away. Mayor Mitchel was not there 
when we left New York, otherwise he would have sent his 
respects to this conference and the people of Detroit. 

But allow me, in closing, to express our sincerest thanks 
for the hospitality of Detroit and to wish an even grander 
future for this city as a great industrial city, the home city 
of happy and healthy families. 


One hundred and three years ago there appeared for the 
first time in the then century-old city of Detroit, Captain 
Lewis Cass from Ohio. He was our governor for fifteen 
years and left his impress not only upon the territory of 
Michigan, but also on the whole Northwest. He is still our 
first citizen. A year ago one bearing the name of Cass, a 
relative or at least a connection of the captain, came to 
Detroit and captured our public library competition and 
came again a year ago and captured our Scott foun- 
tain competition. We are very glad to welcome him 
here tonight as a future resident of Detroit, at least 

Mr. Gilbert, when he came to Detroit, was not altogether 
familiar with the City Planning Conference. He asked: 
" What is the constitution and what are the by-laws ? " 
Mr. Olmsted said : " There is no constitution and there are 
no by-laws." Mr. Gilbert said : " That is the kind of an 
organization that I want to belong to. I would like to be 
president of such an organization as that." Mr. Olmsted 
immediately replied : " Why, all you have to do is to sub- 
stitute your name for mine on the note at the bank; then 
you can become president of this organization." 

Mr. Cass Gilbert, Member Commission of Fine Arts: 

I know why Detroit succeeds. It is led by the gifted imag- 
ination and counseled by the silver tongue of Charles Moore. 



If I went back in the history of city planning in America, I 
would do as someone else has done, ascribe the parentage 
of the whole thing to Major L'Enfant. But I would have 
to come down rapidly over a considerable stretch of time to 
the period when — and I speak seriously now — when, 
counseled by your fellow townsman, under the patronage 
of your great Senator McMillan, the Washington Park 
Commission was appointed and the plan of the city of 
Washington, revised, reorganized and embellished, be- 
came possible under the guidance of Burnham, Mc- 
Kim, St. Gaudens & Olmsted, and there at the helm 
and close in counsel was your fellow townsman, Charles 

So if my introduction to this audience is not fortunate, 
if I have to come to you under any guise at all, it will be 
under the guise and mask of a friend of Charles Moore, and 
I am proud of it. 

Now this imaginary conversation of which he has told 
you as between Olmsted and me is one of the most brilliant 
feats of a highly constructive mind that I have ever known, 
and the curious part of it is that the conversation did actu- 
ally take place. But I made one condition, that there should 
be no rules of professional ethics that would invite charges 
of unprofessional conduct. They refused to make that con- 
dition, and I promptly withdrew my candidacy. 

My next neighbor here, Mr. Kirchner, in our conversa- 
tion tonight has stated a fundamental truth, and it is sur- 
prising to me that I had n't thought of it before — well 
it does n't surprise me after all that I did n't think of it, 
because none of us think of fundamental truths very often ; 
they are elusive. I cannot say it in the eloquent tones 
which he probably would use if he were addressing you, but 
this is what he said: " The architectural condition of our 
cities is the price we have paid for liberty! " Said humor- 
ously, it is nevertheless a very profound observation. If 
you will stop to think of it, private enterprise and private 
liberty and private rights and a subdivided block and a 



little area of land built up close, and all that results from 
the fact that a man of modest means owns one piece of 
property, and a family embarrassed by a poorly paying 
estate another, and the next some great millionaire who 
can afford to do anything he wishes, make a condition of 
individual liberty of action which produces a sky line 
that is as varied and interesting as the history of the 
individual property owners themselves. Interesting and 
picturesque yes, but seldom well organized and rarely 

Yet out of that condition have we to organize and create 
civic order and civic embellishment. Our cities have grown, 
and grown enormously; we forget how fast they have 
grown, and we constantly refer to their rapid growth and 
brag about it and forget what it really means. 

I was looking over — in order to prepare myself for some 
kind of a speech, and did not succeed in doing it — I was 
looking over a book on town planning written in England. 
I forget who wrote it, it was too big. But I remember one 
statement to the effect that Philadelphia at the time of the 
Civil War — I take my English friend's statement as cor- 
rect — had 40,000 inhabitants and it was the largest city 
in the United States, by which I suppose it means that it 
was larger than New York. 

(Mr. Olmsted interjects " The Revolutionary War.") 

I accept Mr. Olmsted's correction; let us go back to 
the Revolutionary War. It is only about one hundred 
and thirty or forty years ago, and what is forty or 
fifty thousand people between friends or fifty years in the 
course of town planning? Within a period so short as that 
the entire business of building cities has grown up in this 
country. And we are confronted now with the situation 
where a vast proportion of our people live under urban 
conditions, and in a sort of a faltering way it has gradu- 
ally penetrated into the minds of men now in active life 
that something has got to be done about it, and various 



methods of solving these problems, such as have been sug- 
gested by our distinguished friend Mr. Bassett in the 
housing of workingmen, have come to be considered, and 
various citizens have entered upon various projects for meet- 
ing these practical needs. In New York, where I pass a 
portion of my time, they have been trying to solve the 
question of congestion by means of rapid transit. The net 
result so far has been that they never have caught up with 
the rapid transit scheme; and the more people they are 
able to take out of a center into the country, the 
more people they are able to bring back from the coun- 
try into the center, and the net result is that the con- 
gestion is greater than it was before. We cannot al- 
ways solve such problems, sometimes they solve them- 
selves. But we should examine and study them and help 
as we can. 

We are trying to solve these problems in various ways. 
We will not solve them all by any one of the ways that have 
been proposed. Rapid transit will not solve them. The 
zone system will not solve them. But various efforts will 
bring out a solution. Whatever the final solution of hous- 
ing and transportation, it will be found to be based on 
sound civic economics. 

No city under our form of government can provide for 
its embellishment except incidentally until it has paid its 
bills for operation. Each city, with the single exception 
of the national capital, must pay its own way or create its 
own debts and pay the interest charges that run against 
those debts. And the only way that can be done is by taxa- 
tion, and when taxation rises to a point that it becomes 
confiscatory, the operation will cease, because the income 
will disappear by reason of those who pay the income being 
driven from the occupancy. I do not want to be too tech- 
nical about it, but it begins to seem to me that our great 
civic planning enterprises must ally themselves a little more 
closely with the practical conditions of municipal manage- 
ment and municipal finance. 



I think perhaps it is not the best place, at a dinner, 
where humor and wit and merriment should prevail, to in- 
troduce so serious a subject. It perhaps should be dis- 
cussed only in the hall where the debates have been going 
on. But it does seem to me that these great and very desir- 
able objects which we have in view may be touched on here 
for only a moment. We are advocating a cause which 
should interest all good citizens. We are advocating the 
making of better cities and making them better organized, 
better planned, more beautiful, more acceptable to live in, 
with better housing for rich and poor alike ; and while pro- 
viding better utilities for sanitation, transportation, edu- 
cation and health, offering also opportunities for sane 
recreation and enjoyment, art galleries, libraries, museums, 
music halls and all that makes civic life attractive and de- 
sirable. If those things are to be accomplished, they can 
only be accomplished by making the means meet the end. 

I anticipate that no city government of wisdom and 
sanity would for a moment hesitate to carry out the rea- 
sonable plans for city improvement which our friends de- 
sign, if the means to do so were available. 

Why, in New York, Riverside Drive would be extended 
away up the Hudson at once if they had the money ; diag- 
onal avenues would undoubtedly be cut. Small public parks 
and playgrounds, which are so very necessary in that 
crowded community — and will be here if they are not al- 
ready — would be provided at once if they had the means. 
But they must first provide for the great need of carrying 
on the city government, with its police, its schools, its street 
cleaning, its various necessary administrative functions. 
I have been told that if New York were governed from the 
standpoint of efficiency, regardless of politics, all these 
things could be done and there would be ample funds left 
over for civic development. 

City planning goes hand in hand with good city govern- 
ment and means good local city government in all depart- 



This matter of city planning is a very old one. It is so 
old that it is hard to find the origin of it. Romulus and 
Remus quarreled over it. The Greeks practiced it. At 
Syracuse Girgenti and many old Greek cities there are fre- 
quent evidences of it. Babylon's hanging gardens are pro- 
verbial. Its parks and pleasure grounds are described by 
Herodotus. In Egypt and in Lydia kings and potentates 
gave thought to such matters and recorded with pride their 
accomplishment of great city plan projects. Solomon the 
wise was himself a great city planner. The Roman em- 
perors like Hadrian were famous for their great civic 
P works, and Napoleon, most practical of men, dreamed a 
new Paris, while Washington and Jefferson, looking to the 
future of our country, wisely gave thought and practical 
expression to these matters. And no doubt these discus- 
sions which we hold today were indulged in then. They 
were all dreamers, just as we are dreamers, and they 
dreamed sometimes in a great big way, looking out into the 
future, so much larger than the mere practical man would 
think possible. 

The plans that are made for today are always too small 
for tomorrow, and the plans that we may make for to- 
morrow are always too big for today. 

And so we must solve these problems by so devising our 
plans that those things which are to be done tomorrow shall 
be done in tomorrow's order and with tomorrow's means; 
that those things which are of today must be done with the 
means which are at hand today. 

A city is a mechanism. It is a complicated mechanism, 
it has parts and must work together. The buildings are 
only the machinery that makes the land usable, and they 
are all temporary. Even the best of them are temporary. 
The largest of them are only temporary. And it seems 
strange when we say that, for speaking in terms of the life- 
time of a man they are fairly permanent. But in the life- 
time of a city they are very, very temporary; and when 
that machinery which we call a city, or that cog in the 



wheel which we call a building,- becomes obsolete and its 
parts are worn out or are small for the function it must 
perform, then it behooves us and our communities, our city 
governments, to find a way to renew it and to enlarge it 
to meet our ever growing needs, and in so doing to act with 
minds big enough and with hearts courageous enough to 
look forward into the grand future which this country is 
sure to have. 

And no American city need ever be afraid to look that 
future in the face with courage, with determination and 
with zeal. Your city here in Detroit is one of many great 
cities. You are not alone in your prosperity. You are 
among the first. You are in the front rank, but your prob- 
lem is not the only problem. It is one of many problems. 
As you solve it others will solve their problems, and they 
will always be solved in America with courage, with intel- 
ligence and with enthusiasm. But these problems of civic 
improvement never will be solved at all unless they are 
solved with common sense. 


None of us who were at Toronto last year will forget 
the gracious dignity with which the conference was wel- 
comed to the Dominion by the Governor General of Canada, 
the Duke of Connaught. His speech at the beginnning of 
the conference, his gracious hospitality during its sessions, 
were the thread of gold that ran through the whole meeting. 
We ought to have had more of our Canadian brethren than 
we have had at this conference, but owing to exigencies 
quite beyond their control, they are with us only in small 

We welcome most heartily those who are here. Mr. 
Adams, if he has enjoyed a warm welcome, can understand 
that a part of it belongs to him as the representative of 
the Dominion of Canada. Another part of it, and a large 
part of it too, belongs to him personally, because he has 
been found to be a friend and a brother. He has been in- 



itiated into the mysteries of the General Committee — . 
where Mr. Veiller passes the hat ! It gives us great pleasure 
to welcome Mr. Adams, and we shall hear from him as the 
representative of Canada. 

Mr. Thomas Adams, Town Planning Adviser Commission 
of Conservation of Canada: 

I assure you that it is a great honor to be here as rep- 
resenting Canada, as it is a great privilege to be here 
amongst American citizens who are working side by side 
with us in dealing with the great problem of city growth. 
We are trying to solve conditions of a very similar charac- 
ter on both sides of the boundary line which separates us. 

The question raised by Mr. Gilbert regarding the diffi- 
culties of the financial situation confronts everyone who 
has to deal with these problems. We are called dreamers, 
but we are dreamers only in the sense that we are trying 
to apply some imagination to the practical problems we are 
confronted with, and I do not think that necessarily means 
that we are not trying to provide a practical foundation to 
all the dreams which we have. 

I remember well in my early connection with the move- 
ment that the architect and the engineer, men like Mr. 
Lewis and Mr. Bennett, representing the two principal pro- 
fessions interested in town planning, had their own partic- 
ular notions as to what their position should be in regard 
to the planning of a city. I had a great deal to do with 
the planning of some of these cities where we had the en- 
gineer working side by side with the architect. I remem- 
ber one occasion when the engineer was asked to sink an 
artesian well to supply a garden city with water, and the 
architect came along and said he objected to the erection 
of a galvanized iron pumping shed, but he would accept it 
if it was painted in green, so as to harmonize with the sur- 
rounding trees. The engineer replied: "Well I don't 
object if you put up a notice on the shed to the effect that 
the engineer is not responsible for the paint." 



Now I think that rather suggests that both have their 
separate functions, and they ought to keep to those func- 
tions. The engineer has to do with that part of city plan- 
ning which is concerned with the laying down of the great 
arterial highways leading from our cities, the laying down 
of our systems of drainage, our systems of sewerage and 
our water supply, which come in at the earlier stages of our 
city development. 

We are trying and have tried to harmonize in Great 
Britain the duties of both of these professions so that they 
will work together and yet not unduly overlap or cause 
friction between each other. In that connection we have 
established in Great Britain a Town Planning Institute, 
which has four classes of members. In that institute we 
have as members the chief municipal engineers in Great 
Britain connected with town planning. There are many 
leading architects like Professor Adshead, the town plan- 
ning professor of London University, Mr. Lanchester, Mr. 
Unwin, Sir Arthur Webb and other names which are famil- 
iar to architects here. There are surveyors and landscape 
architects like Mr. Mawson and myself, and there are law- 
yers like Mr. Abbott, Mr. Birkett and others, who have de- 
voted themselves especially to this problem. 

These four professions have combined together to form 
the Town Planning Institute. I mention that as an indica- 
tion of the widespread character of this problem we are 
dealing with. We have to approach it not as if any one 
man could deal with all the problems of city development, 
but as something in which there is room for cooperation of 
these varied professions. 

Now, sir, in Canada we are trying to deal with this prob- 
lem in a way which I think will help you to appreciate the 
difficulties mentioned by Mr. Gilbert, who had just spoken 
on the financial problem. We take the attitude that town 
planning does not mean spending more, but means spending 
more wisely. We think we can save money and not increase 
expenditure by town planning. 



It has been said that San Francisco could have saved 
$26,000,000 if it had been planned according to the topog- 
raphy of the land instead of in the rectangular way in 
which it has been laid out. Other cities have used hydraulic 
means to drive through mountain sides, because the streets 
have been laid out without any regard to the physical fea- 
ture of the land. Liverpool, on the other side of the Atlan- 
tic, has spent £10,000,000, or $50,000,000, to remedy evils 
in development, evils which have been handed down to it 
from the past. London has in about fifty years spent 
$150,000,000 to deal with congestion and other difficulties 
which have been created from want of planning. 

Therefore we approach this question not as a means of 
adding to taxation, but of saving it. It may not be that 
it is a means of immediate saving, but certainly it is a 
means of securing a sound and profitable investment. 

Now, sir, I sometimes find myself in conflict with my 
town planning friends when I say that we have got to deal 
ith this thing in a practical way. I won't yield to anyone 
in a matter of having idealism, in a matter of trying to 
secure the best results from the point of view of esthetic 
effect in regard to city planning, although I have some re- 
gard for that philosophy expressed by Aristotle to the 
effect that beauty is the purgation of superfluity, that sim- 
plicity represents the highest form of beauty. On some 
of our mountain sides, where we see the little cottages built 
in timber with fine proportion and admirable setting, seem- 
ing almost to be part of the landscape, we see that form of 
)eauty. Some of these simple artificial effects, united with 
the beautiful in nature, make pictures of which this conti- 
nent may well be proud. We have some grander results in 
the simple beauty of these rural landscapes than we get in 
the classic facades which are found in the streets of our 
Torontos or Montreals and some of our larger cities. Ex- 
cellent in themselves, some of these fine architectural build- 
ings are designed and erected without regard to their sur- 
roundings. That is where the architect can help us so 



much, although he is very largely the prey of the client who 
employs him. The old Greeks set their beautiful and dig- 
nified buildings on the heights which dominated their cities. 
We borrow their architecture and place fine classic struc- 
tures among our skyscrapers, where they form part of a 
group of incongruous rows of buildings in closely crowded 
streets. Perhaps that applies more to Canada than to the 
United States. But in that respect, at any rate, there is 
immediate room for the work of the architect in saving us 
from the evils of misplaced genius. 

Now, sir, I would like to indicate one or two directions 
in which we think we are going to solve this problem of finan- 
cial difficulty in Canada by means of town planning. I rep- 
resent the Commission of Conservation of Canada. The 
word " conservation " suggests what we are. Our object is 
to conserve national resources. We have the same problem 
as you have here in the increase of urban population. In 
1871 Canada had 14 per cent of her population in cities 
and today we have 50 per cent. These cities have grown 
without proper plans. In connection with that growth 
there has been a great deal of speculation in land. There 
has been uncontrolled subdivision of land, along with an un- 
desirable system of fixing values for assessment purposes. 
Some cities are committed to public improvements far in 
excess of the immediate revenue producing value of the land 
and the buildings in these cities. Some of our western cities 
in Canada are subdivided to the extent necessary to provide 
for the whole present population of the Dominion. 

With regard to one of these cities I estimated that if the 
city grew as rapidly in the future as it had done in the 
past, and it has grown very rapidly, if I had been the for- 
tunate person who had bought the subdivision which was 
most remote from the center of that town at $500 an acre, 
and I held that land and was the unfortunate individual 
who was the last to sell it, I should have to get half a mil- 
lion dollars to pay me compound interest on the investment. 

That is one of our difficulties. They are difficulties com- 



mon to both of our countries. These are financial prob- 
lems that you can help to solve with proper town planning. 
Town planning ought to be a means of exercising foresight, 
and with all deference to Mr. Moore, common sense, in 
regard to these matters, so that we shall not only secure 
beauty, as we can afford to spend a little extra here and 
there in securing it, but that we may be able to protect 
future generations from the social evils that have been 
handed down to us. 

We should not pay too much regard to that aspect of 
city planning which is confined to the replanning of exist- 
ing conditions. I mean we should not confine our attention 
to that aspect to the exclusion of the others. In Detroit 
you are very much limited in what you can do in the exist- 
ing city, because of the financial and other conditions and 
the difficulties which would be created by increasing the 
present obligations of the taxpayer. But that does not 
mean that Detroit is prevented from securing, with all the 
undeveloped land in the city, proper safeguards by regula- 
tion, so that its unbuilt upon areas shall be developed in a 
healthy manner for the future; so that those who come 
after will be in a position to say that they are saved the 
expense of replanning. All this expense of pulling down 
>uildings to secure wide arteries, for which we blame want 
if foresight on the part of previous generations, will still 
tave to be incurred in fifty years in respect of the open land 
this city if we do not plan it now. I will put it in an- 
)ther form. Sometimes the town planner is faced with 
this argument : " You are fifteen years too late. Why 
lid n't you come along before Mr. Ford found out the way 
to manufacture a cheap motor, and why didn't you plan 
Highland Park before he brought all those thousands of 
men into that district? " That argument will be used fifty 
years hence, as it is being used today. We cannot go back 
and collect spilt milk, but we can look forward and avoid 
its being spilt in future. That is our problem just as much 
as altering existing conditions, and it is a problem which 



we can deal with without increased expenditure. We say 
with regard to this matter in Canada that we will have to 
deal with the existing conditions, that is, with areas already 
developed, gradually as we can afford it. We will have to 
widen the street that is already built upon as our revenue 
will enable us to do so by a gradual process. We get archi- 
tectural advice and engineering advice as to what the best 
thing is to do, but let us deal with that gradually. But 
meanwhile, by means of town planning legislation, we will 
plan new areas so as to prevent the future necessity of 
costly replanning. In other words, we are seeking to pre- 
vent future evils by comprehensive schemes which will cost 
us very little and to cure existing evils by a gradual process. 
Prevention is much cheaper than cure. I venture to say 
in some of our large cities, in Toronto and Montreal for 
instance, that the cost of curing existing evils is almost 
beyond us. But the cost of preventing bad development in 
future in our suburbs and in our smaller cities, in places 
that have grown up in the last ten years, in places like 
Ojibway on the other side of the water, which may possibly 
grow up in the next ten years, will be trifling, considering 
the great benefits to be derived. We are getting the power 
by legislation to lay down the planning for the future, and 
we have sufficient optimism, as I know you have sufficient 
optimism, to believe that all the cities have not yet reached 
the stage when they are going to stand still, but they are 
going to grow as much in the future as they have in the past. 

If you believe your cities are growing and if you believe 
that you have by intelligence and by your study of this 
question arrived at certain conclusions regarding what 
should be done in connection with new developments, surely 
the right thing to do, even if you are face to face with the 
difficulty of altering existing conditions, is to obtain power 
through your federal and state governments to enable you 
to deal with those new developments in an intelligent way 
and with the application of science and common sense. 

We have 66 foot streets as the minimum for the whole 



of Ontario on the other side of the river. It would be just 
as sensible to prescribe that every sewer must be of the 
same diameter. A street ought to be designed for the pur- 
pose for which it is going to be used, and the main artery, 
in these days of the motor car, should be much wider than 
the short residence street leading to a few houses. 

We as town planners have to tell those who manage our 
cities and towns that the width of a street is a matter to 
be determined according to the purpose for which the street 
is required, and we are in a position to advise them what 
that width should be, so as to save money now both in local 
improvements and in expensive replanning in future. 

The question of fire protection is an important one for 
town planners. In Canada we pay ten times as much for 
fire insurance as they do in some countries in Europe. We 
are carrying that burden upon our shoulders of which we 
could save a considerable part by proper regulation with 
regard to the character, the placing and the construction 
of buildings and to the distance between the buildings. A 
proper town planning scheme would provide for the loca- 
tion, construction and placing of buildings which would 
secure considerable reduction in fire losses and therefore in 
fire premiums. 

With regard to other matters of a similar character we 
could save large sums of money under properly considered 
schemes. If some of our new cities in Canada, and some 
of yours in the States, were to construct the sidewalks, 
pavements and other improvements as they should be con- 
structed for the whole of the areas of these cities, they 
would be face to face with a bankrupt condition. That is 
because these cities have not been planned with proper re- 
gard to the revenue producing value of the properties 
erected within them. 

With regard to the housing question referred to by 
Mr. Bassett, that should be considered not only from the 
standpoint of securing pleasant environment, but also 
from the standpoint of the commercial value of efficient 



labor. We pay in Canada about $250,000,000 a year in 
wages to our employees in factories. The last ten years 
our factories have increased by about 5000 in number. 
What is the principal raw material of these industries? 
It is the efficiency of the human factor which we have to 
use as the means of making those industries successful and 
putting our products on the world's market. You have a 
splendid example in Detroit of the value of increasing the 
efficiency of labor, and you know that when anyone comes 
to your country you make a point of having him bring a 
health certificate with him so that you are certain he will 
be not only a good citizen, but a self-supporting one. 

I will give an illustration of another point. In Ottawa 
a man who pays a moderate rent will be paying $33 a year 
in taxes. His children are being educated. Assume that 
he has four children. They are costing the community 
$200 a year for education alone — much more in actual 
money than he is giving to it. Therefore a large portion of 
the benefit which we may derive from that man's labor and 
from the labor of his children has to be put against that 
loss. To maintain healthy conditions of life for that man 
and his family is to help in making him self-supporting and 
not a burden on the community, and also in securing that 
his children will grow up into healthy citizens. We are 
paying in hard cash for healthy and efficient labor under 
these conditions ; why then are we so indifferent about the 
conditions in which our laborers are housed? I would urge 
that town planning which has regard to the health of the 
people as a primary consideration is a matter which we 
are required to deal with in order that we may save money. 
Both your country and mine are largely made up of pio- 
neers who have built up their wealth and prosperity on this 
continent. We give them liberty, one of those great demo- 
cratic privileges which have helped to make these nations 
great. Town planning will not curtail liberty, but only the 
excesses of liberty. 

We are citizens of great countries which have succeeded 



in making wealth and in using science for creating and build j 
ing up great industries. Let us also endeavor to use that 
science and enterprise for the still greater work of securing 
the amelioration of social conditions of our people, so that 
the United States or Canada may be able to claim, in the 
march of civilization, that they have not only been great 
in wealth and powerful among the nations of the world, 
but that they have paid proper regard to the home life of 
the people and left behind them a priceless heritage of 
healthy manhood and womanhood as their contribution to 
the civilization of the future. 


In carrying out my duties as toastmaster I should feel 
it incumbent upon me to defend Mr. Crawford, if I did 
not know that he was able to take care of himself, so I 
will merely tell in introducing him one of Frank Miles 
Day's stories about the Philadelphian who was going home 
very late one night and said to the policeman : " Is this 
Chestnut Street or is it Wednesday? " 

Andrew Wright Crawford, Esq.: 

I was much interested in Mr. Bassett's reference to my 
watch, and in his objections to my use of it. A tenderfoot 
out West happened into a poker den and watched one of 
the hands that was being played. Alongside of him was a 
big bruiser watching the same hand. Presently it became 
the turn of the man whose hand they were watching to deal, 
and the tenderfoot saw him give four aces from the bot- 
tom of the pack to his own hand. He whispered to the 
bruiser: " See that? " " See what? " " That man took 
four aces from the bottom of the pack and dealt them to 
himself." " Well, it 's his turn, ain't it? " At the con- 
ference two years ago I thought Bassett would talk so 
long that I would not have a turn. 

It used to be thought that Philadelphia was not as strenu- 
ous as New York, but the shoe is on the other foot now. 



Mr. Lewis told me of an experience he had in New York 
with Mr. John C. Trautwine, one of our eminent Philadel- 
phia engineers. Mr. Trautwine and Mr. Lewis were stand- 
ing on a street corner downtown in New York a few months 
ago, when a horse car came by, and Trautwine turned to 
Lewis and said reflectively : " No wonder Philadelphia used 
to be called slow ! " 

It is twenty years and more since we had horse cars in 
Philadelphia. The last two decades have indeed seen many 

Twenty years ago pessimism with regard to American 
municipal government was rampant. That pessimism had 
been voiced by Bryce, not for the purpose of criticism but 
of warning. By 1893 it had become the prevailing fashion. 
But it was worse than a fashion. It was an influence. It 
halted action. It crippled progress. It even clouded 
visions. It was as if we then used the present-day phrase: 
" Today is that tomorrow of which yesterday we hoped 
so much." We. did not then add : " If tomorrow we would 
not be as disappointed as we are today, we must act today." 

And yet twenty years ago there had already begun the 
municipal renaissance which is so evident throughout Amer- 
ica today. It was in 1893 that three significant things hap- 
pened which have combined to produce the city-building 
movement that has been and is, I believe, the greatest force 
in the dissolution of municipal pessimism. 

I remarked just now that that pessimism had clouded 
vision. But it had not killed it. Hope is eternal and 
vision is hope concentrated. My fellow city planners will 
have anticipated me in naming the three things that hap- 
pened in 1893 as the publication in one form or another 
of three great dreams. We hear sometimes that the plans 
for city growth that we are presenting from year to year 
are staggering. But none of them compare to the stagger- 
ing shock that must have been felt in Boston when Eliot's 
.audacious outer park scheme was proposed; or to that in 
Ivansas City at the publication of its suggested interior 

[224 ] 


park and parkway system; or at Burnham's civic center, 
that the world has since acclaimed as the Court of Honor 
of the World's Fair of Chicago. I remind you of these 
twice-told tales to nerve you on to things not only as 
bold, but bolder: to beg you to dream greater dreams, 
see greater visions. For it is indeed true, as the toast- 
master said, that what we prepare today is vastly surpassed 

City planners need perspective — perspective of the 
past, I mean. They are not city planners at all if a per- 
spective of the future is not theirs ; but the perspective of 
the past — the realization of great things done — is per- 
suasive. I do not think there is anything that we need so 
much as to remind ourselves constantly that Eliot's dream 
is today far more than realized; that Kansas City boasts 
the actual possession of a park system double that dreamed 
twenty years ago. And if we need it — if, in the slow prog- 
ress from month to month, from year to year — we need 
the constant stimulus of the story of great things done — 
the general public needs it far more. Show your indiffer- 
ent man in the street a city plan and he will in secret deride 
you ; show him a similar plan of another city and tell him 
that that city has done the thing, and he will show surprise ; 
tell him that it has physically been far more than realized 
and he will question your statement : but he who questions 
is lost to indifference. 

It is because of the faith that is in you that you must 
dream greatly. Burnham was everlastingly right when he 
said : " Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir 
men's blood, and probably themselves will not be realized. 
Make big plans. Aim high in hope and work, remembering 
that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, 
but long after we are gone will be a living thing, asserting 
itself with ever growing insistency. Remember that our 
sons and grandsons are going to do things that will stagger 
us." There is in that the psychology of men in masses. 

It is the result of the great dreams of 1893 that Ameri- 


can cities today lead the world in their park systems. 
People think that such a statement is bombast and yet its 
complete truth is recognized in other countries. 

Mr. Adshead, to whom Mr. Adams referred in an article 
on the contribution to city planning made by different 
countries, refers to American park systems thus : * " The 
scientific provision of recreation is America's most concrete 
achievement and it has taken the form of the working up 
of parks, playgrounds and open spaces into an organic 
system. ... In this connection America has advanced 
ahead of any European country. . . . There is also the 
intensive use of open spaces, in which the utmost possible 
value is extracted from them, as exampled in the play- 
ground and neighborhood centers of Chicago, Milwaukee 
and other towns. . . . There is also visible a gradation in 
the character of the open spaces. There are, for example, 
those near the center in the form of small playgrounds and 
formal town gardens — the Luxembourg Gardens of Paris 
and the Pare, Brussels, illustrate this type. There is then, 
further out, the great Town Park, still highly artificial in 
its layout — the Prater at Vienna and the Bois de la Cambre 
at Brussels are typical examples of this. Finally, there 
are the Nature Reserves or stretches of open country left 
in their natural state, but prevented from being spoiled by 
any building. The wooded hills round at Vienna and the 
Foret de Soignes at Brussels are admirable European ex- 
amples of the Nature Reserve; but although Vienna and 
Brussels, and other European towns, possess to a more or 
less extent these types, in no instance can they be seen 
definitely joined together in the same way as at Boston, 
which represents the highest achievement in this direction 
— the Metropolitan Park Commission extending over 38 
neighboring cities and towns and including 15,000 acres of 
parks and 25 miles of parkways." 

I have quoted from Mr. Adshead to show that we must 
have more confidence in ourselves. Undoubtedly we have 

1 Town Planning Review, July, 1913. 


much to learn from other countries, but they have some- 
thing to learn from us. One thing that we must learn is 
that the danger is that we shall under-plan rather than 

The financial situation of American cities was referred 
to by Mr. Cass Gilbert, with an admonition to economy. 
We all recognize the necessity of economy; but there is 
an economy which consists in doing without, which is not 
real economy. Doing without is penury. It may be ex- 
travagance. A city that does without parks and play- 
grounds in generous profusion is not economical, but ex- 
travagant; it is extravagant of the health and lives of its 
men and women workers, and especially of its children who 
will be the burden bearers of the next generation. City 
planning is often the economy of recognizing the wisdom 
of apparent extravagance. Kansas City had a dream in 
1893 which undoubtedly appeared extravagant, but the 
landowners have realized 300 and 400 per cent out of that 
extravagance, though they themselves were compelled to 
pay the entire cost, through assessment of special benefits. 
The city has realized the wisdom of that extravagance 
through increase in income caused by the resulting increase 
in assessed valuations. 

I deny that the big plans that are prepared today are 
too big. I deny a solid foundation for a fear of the future. 
It is extraordinary how difficult it is to persuade citizens 
that their city is bound to grow. They give lip recognition 
to the idea but no practical recognition of it. I presume 
that every one of you have found this out. It was im- 
pressed upon me at a board meeting of an association in 
Philadelphia devoted to city planning propaganda, when I 
remarked that during the next administration's term of 
office a new city equal to Columbus, Ohio, would be added to 
Philadelphia. The statement was not accepted at first but 
of course it was easy to prove it. Now you here in Detroit 
have grown enormously during the last decade between 
1900 and 1910. You grew at the rate of 63 per cent. 



Faith in the future would persuade you that it is part of 
wisdom to expect a similar growth during the present dec- 
ade. Even though that rate is not maintained, the prepa- 
ration of plans for that rate would only be two or three 
years out of calculation. You are able to show by a 
pamphlet which I have seen since I came here that 39 per 
cent of your homes are owned by people who live in them. 
I hope that is true. It is a magnificent record, and from 
what I have learned of your prosperity I believe that it is 

In municipal psychology the dominant note of the last 
two decades has not been the creation of parks and play- 
ground systems, profound though their effect on the public 
has been and will be ; nor the undertaking of civic centers, 
although many of them are well on toward completion 
today; nor street construction or reconstruction, though 
city after city is doing the physical work now — but the 
recognition that every city has a future. Patent as that 
fact is, it was not squarely recognized in the scheme of 
most municipal governments until the last six years. In 
1907 the first City Planning Commission was appointed. 
Now there are over 100 of them. Whatever the ultimate 
form that city planning commissions will take — and, like 
all governmental agencies, they wil( necessarily be experi- 
mental — this is the gist of their creation : they will con- 
tinuously remind the city and the citizens that it is not the 
dead past, nor the fleeting present, but the future with all 
its vastness that must be their chief concern. This is pro- 
foundly significant. 

Sometimes in the great endeavor to foresee the future 
and to persuade governmental authorities to act upon that 
foresight we halt and hesitate; sometimes we wish for the 
completed thing, the fact accomplished, the ultimate city. 
We err in doing so. The only ultimate city is the city of 
the past ; the only city that needs no reconstruction is the 
dead city. A great merchant of New York and Philadel- 
phia, when just getting his head above water, was accosted 



in his Chestnut Street store by an irritated customer, with 
the remark that he had just been annoyed by the sound of 
the carpenters' hammer at work during business hours. 
" Yes," said the merchant, " and I hope the sound of the 
hammer will never cease." That it has not ceased is a suffi- 
cient index of his success. That there is no such thing as 
completion is really a great cause for cheer. That the 
outer park system of yesterday is the boundary park sys- 
tem of today and will be the inner park system of tomorrow 
means that today we must acquire the outer park system 
of tomorrow, and must plan the ring beyond for the day 
after tomorrow. 

The necessity of constant reconstruction is not to be 
regretted. Reconstruction means renewal of opportunity. 

Two or three months ago I inspected the Lincoln me- 
morial at Washington, and for a moment wished I could 
see the ultimate thing, the pools of water framed by elms 
leading up to its majestic beauty; and yet I know that any 
one who has had a part, little or big, directly or indirectly, 
officially or merely as a part of articulate public opinion, 
is getting more joy out of it today than those who will 
come tomorrow to see it completed. The builders of the 
Pyramids derived more pleasure from them than we do. 
There is more recompense in accomplishing than in 

We have thoroughly enjoyed the time that we have had 
in Detroit. You have been exceedingly good to us, and 
have shown us fully the city which your fathers created. 
We praise them for the creation of the Grand Boulevard 
of which you today are so justly proud. We praise you 
because you are preparing similar plans for the future. 
We have been particularly delighted to see these plans for 
the creation of a thoroughly organized city, and we hope 
and expect that you will carry them out. We from other 
cities will be your rivals in the matter of actual accomplish- 
ments of similar city plans, but it will be a generous rivalry ; 
and when we have the opportunity to come here again to 

[229] " 


enjoy such hospitality as we have enjoyed here tonight, I 
beg to assure you that we hope to see many of these plans 
realized: and if you have done more than we of other 
cities shall have accomplished, we will heartily applaud 



From National Organizations to Consider City 
Planning Cooperation 

On Tuesday evening, June 8, 1915, thirty-one delegates, 
officially appointed by fourteen national organizations, 
met at the Hotel Statler, Detroit, to consider the possibili- 
ties of cooperating in extending interest in and knowledge 
with regard to city planning. 

Mr. Lee J. Ninde of Fort Wayne, Ind., the chairman 
of the City Planning Committee of the National Asso- 
ciation of Real Estate Exchanges, said that the idea of 
such cooperation was suggested to him from the fact that 
he had found real estate men generally keenly alive to the 
value of city planning but they did not know where to turn 
to obtain concrete information on the subject. He said 
that much of it existed in the papers and discussions of the 
National City Planning Conference, but the conference 
has not had the means for editing and disseminating this 
information other than in their " Proceedings " and " Bulle- 
tin," which have had a limited and special circulation. He 
went to some of the members of the National City Planning 
Conference, the American Civic Association and the Ameri- 
can Institute of Architects to see how they could help him. 
One of the first things that was apparent when they came to 
consider a plan of action was that much of the valuable ex- 
perience and real knowledge of the various matters which 
are currently treated in city planning work would be 
found among the members of other more specialized or- 
ganizations. It was recognized that it would be desirable 
to go to such bodies as the 



American Association of Commercial Organization Secre- 
American Federation of Arts 
American Institute of Consulting Engineers 
American Society of Cemetery Superintendents 
American Society of Civil Engineers 
American Society of Electrical Engineers 
American Society of Landscape Architects 
American Society of Mechanical Engineers 
American Society of Municipal Improvement 
American Society of Park Superintendents 
Conference of American Mayors 
National Association of Builders Exchanges 
National Fire Protection Association 
National Housing Association 
National Municipal League 
National Water Works Association 

This suggested the obvious idea of bringing together 
those who were already interested in city planning in each 
of these bodies to see whether there might not be some way 
of organizing cooperation generally among those national 
bodies whose subj ects bordered on city planning to the com- 
mon end of each helping the others to round out their 
knowledge of the subject. 

The officers of a number of the bodies above mentioned 
were asked if they would consider cooperating in such a 
work. The replies showed that the idea was most favorably 
received. As the annual meeting on June 7th to 9th of the 
National Conference on City Planning seemed a favorable 
occasion to bring about a meeting of representatives of 
each of the groups, a number of the associations were asked 
to send delegations to a conference in Detroit on June 8th. 

The thirty-one delegates at this meeting were unanimous 
in feeling that there was a great and rapidly growing de- 
mand for city planning, and a very general need for proper 
education in it. It was felt that a great deal of city plan- 



ning endeavor and zeal was running amuck through lack of 
information generally distributed as to what constituted 
good practice. They knew that the necessary experience 
and ideas existed among the members of their respective 
groups but through lack of adequate media for dissemi- 
nating them, they often failed to reach those who had the 
greatest need of them. They felt that their fellow members 
could render a marked public service by contributing from 
their knowledge to the general fund of city planning infor- 
mation, adapting their ideas for lay consumption and allow- 
ing them to be spread broadcast through the magazines, 
the press and by various propagandizing bodies. 

The delegates were rather afraid that comparatively 
few of their fellow members had any clear conception of 
what city planning meant or what local city planning bodies 
were really trying to do. They felt therefore that prob- 
ably education should start at home; that the various 
national associations should take it upon themselves to 
educate their own members to understand what comprehen- 
sive city planning really means, how rapidly it is growing 
in importance and, in particular, just what part the mem- 
bers of the organizations could and should take in it. For 
not only is there a general demand for specific technical 
knowledge which only the experts can contribute, but also 
these very men are being asked currently as a public duty 
to serve on local city plan committees and commissions and 
help generally in city planning work in their home towns. 
Thus it particularly behooves them to secure such a broad 
comprehensive grasp of the subject as will enable them to 
successfully lead in the work. 

To this end it was most urgently recommended that every- 
thing feasible be done, first, to assemble for general distri- 
bution the expert knowledge and experience which might 
come from the members of the various bodies, and second, 
to extend the interest among and round out the knowledge 
of the members in all that has to do with city planning. It 
was recommended: 



First. That each association at its next annual conven- 
tion devote a session, or even part of a session, to discussing 
the subject of city planning, showing the particular relation 
it has to the object of the association and showing just 
what the members should have to do with the subject both 
for their own good and for the good of the general public. 

Second. That articles and news items on city planning 
matters, edited so that they will have a peculiar appeal 
and significance to their readers, be included currently in 
the official organs or journals of each organization, and in 
such other technical or professional magazines as are read 
by the members. 

Third. That each official organ or trade journal co- 
operate with its respective association to aid it in preparing 
city planning articles. 

Fourth. That the members cooperate more in the prep- 
aration of city planning articles for the general magazines, 
the newspapers, for the propagandist work of organiza- 
tions like the American Civic Association and that they help 
in the campaign of city planning education in the schools 
and libraries. 

Fifth. That a special committee on city planning be 
appointed within each body to treat all of the matters here 
discussed and any others that may come up. 

Sixth. That each committee send representatives to the 
next meeting of the National Conference on City Planning, 
there to consider and discuss cooperation among national 
organizations and how they may be mutually helpful in 
all that pertains to city planning in relation to their re- 
spective interests. 

Seventh. That each committee confer and cooperate 
with the National City Planning Conference in their com- 
mon interest and use as far as practicable the facilities of 
the conference for the assembling and editing of publish- 
able material. 



Eighth. That the Department of the Interior at Wash- 
ington be requested to distribute broadcast pamphlets on 
city planning and act as an information bureau on city 
planning matters. 

It was felt that a joint conference would be most neces- 
sary to determine what should best be done and in what 
order, how to go about it, what part each organization 
should take, who would be best suited to do such tasks as 
might become necessary, and once the plans were decided 
upon, who would go back to the members of the respective 
organizations and interpret to them the conference's ideas. 

It was generally felt that the whole matter was one of 
great importance and urgency and one in which the co- 
operation of all was vitally necessary. 

George B. Ford, 

Chairman pro tern of the joint conference of dele- 
gates from national organizations to con- 
sider cooperation in city planning matters. 

The above is a copy of the statement which has been 
sent out by the chairman of the Conference to the Com- 
mittee on Plan and Scope, which he was asked to appoint 
to consider just what should be done and how. This com- 
mittee consists of the following: 

American Institute of Architects 

Frederick L. Ackerman, 62 W. 45th St., New York City. 
Commission of Conservation of Canada 

Thomas Adams, Ottawa, Can. 
American Society of Mechanical Engineers 

Charles Whiting Baker, Editor, Engineering News, W. 36th 
St., New York City. 
American Society of Municipal Improvement 

Harland Bartholomew, Firemen's Building, Newark, N. J. 
National Association of Builders Exchanges 

Charles A. Bowen, Detroit, Mich. 
Conference of American Mayors 

W. P. Capes, 105 E. 22d St., New York City. 
American Society of Cemetery Superintendents 

Frank Eurich, Detroit, Mich. 


American Society of Civil Engineers 

Henry W. Hodge, 149 Broadway, New York City. 

National Water Works Association 

Nicholas S. Hill, Jr., 100 William St., New York City. 
National Fire Protection Association 

Robert D. Kohn, 56 W. 45th St., New York City. 

American Institute of Consulting Engineers 

Charles W. Leavitt, 220 Broadway, New York City. 

American Federation of Arts 

Miss Leila Mechlin, Secretary, Washington, D. C. 

American Society of Electrical Engineers 

Ralph Merschan, 80 Maiden Lane, New York City. 

National Association of Real Estate Exchanges 
Lee J. Ninde, Fort Wayne, Ind. 

National City Planning Conference 

Frederick L. Olmsted, Brookline, Mass. 

American Society of Park Superintendents 
George A. Parker, Hartford, Conn. 

American Society of Landscape Architects 
T. Glenn Phillips, Detroit, Mich. 

National Association of Commercial Organization Secretaries 

Howard Strong, Civic & Commerce Association, Minneapolis, 

National Housing Association 

Lawrence D. Veiller, 105 E. 22d St., New York City. 

American Civic Association 

Richard B. Watrous, Union Trust Building, Washington, D.C. 

National Municipal League 

Clinton Rogers Woodruff, 121 So. Broad St., Philadelphia, Pa. 

Member ex officio 

George B. Ford, Municipal Building, New York City. 

The members of this committee have the matter now 
under consideration and it is hoped that during the coming 
months a plan of action will be determined upon. 

It is not the intention in any way whatsoever to form a 
new city planning organization apart from the National 
City Planning Conference. It is the intention in the scheme 
above outlined to extend and supplement the range of 



activity and usefulness of the National City Planning Con- 
ference, and it is the intention that this newly formed com- 
mittee shall cooperate with the Committee on Publicity and 
Public Information of the National City Planning Confer- 
ence of which Mr. Richard B. Watrous is chairman. 

The following societies were represented at the conference of delegates: 

National City Planning Conference. 

American Civic Association. 

American Institute of Architects. 

American Institute of Consulting Engineers. 

American Society of Civil Engineers. 

American Society of Landscape Architects. 

American Society of Civil Engineers. 

American Society of Landscape Architects. 

American Society of Municipal Improvements. 

National Association of Builders' Exchanges. 

National Association of Real Estate Exchanges. 

National Conference of Mayors and other City Officials. 

National Fire Protection Association. 

National Housing Association. 

Commission of Conservation of Canada. 




The conference met in executive session at half-past 
four on Wednesday, June 9, Mr. Frederick L. Olmsted 


Resolved, That we express to the mayor, official boards 
and people of Detroit our appreciation of the complete 
manner in which they have entertained the conference. The 
generous help which they have given and the personal at- 
tention of many citizens have made this one of the pleas- 
antest and most successful of our meetings. Our sincere 
thanks are hereby tendered. We also wish to thank the 
Detroit press for their kindly interest and assistance. 

Resolved, That the thanks of the conference be tendered 
to Walter Campbell and to the company represented by him 
for the use of their splendid new steamboat on Tuesday. 
We greatly appreciate this exceptional opportunity to see 
the Detroit River. No item of hospitality was omitted 
from start to finish. 

Resolved, That a vote of thanks be tendered to the City 
Plan and Improvement Commission of Detroit, of which 
Charles Moore is chairman and T. Glenn Phillips is secre- 
tary, for the leading part it has assumed and so success- 
fully borne in the preparation for the management of this 

Resolved, That we transmit to the Board of Commerce 
of Detroit our thanks for their hospitality to us on Mon- 
day and our sincere appreciation of their cooperation and 
help throughout the conference, which so materially con- 
tributed to its success. 




At the opening session of the conference a nominating 
committee was appointed which submitted nominations for 
both the executive and general committees. Additions to 
the latter were made from the floor. 

Voted: That the report of the committee on nomina- 
tions, as amended by nominations from the floor, be 

Voted: That the executive committee be authorized to 
add one to its number from the city at which the next 
conference shall be held. 

Executive Committee 

Frederick Law Olmsted, Fellow American Society of 
Landscape Architects, Brookline, Mass., Chairman. 

Nelson P. Lewis, Chief Engineer Board of Estimate and 
Apportionment, New York City, Vice-Chairman. 

George E. Hooker, Secretary City Club, Chicago. 

Lawrence Veiller, Secretary and Director National 
Housing Association, New York City. 

Andrew Wright Crawford, Esq., Philadelphia. 

Hon. Lawson Purdy, President Department Taxes and 
Assessments, New York City. 

Charles Moore, Detroit, Mich. 

E. P. Goodrich, Consulting Engineer, New York City. 

John Nolen, Landscape Architect, Cambridge, Mass. 

Edward H. Bennett, Consultant in City Planning, 

Richard B. Watrous, Secretary American Civic Associ- 
ation, Washington, D. C. 

George S. Webster, Chief Engineer, Philadelphia. 

Thomas Adams, Town Planning Adviser, Commission of 
Conservation, Ottawa, Canada. 

George B. Ford, Architect and Consultant in City Plan- 
ning, New York City. 



Henry C. Weight, New York City. 

Lee J. Ninde, Chairman City Planning Committee, Na- 
tional Association of Real Estate Exchanges, Fort 
Wayne, Ind. 

A. L. Brockway, Architect, Syracuse, N. Y. 

W. Templeton Johnson, Architect, San Diego, Cal. 
Alfred Bettman, Esq., Cincinnati, Ohio. 

General Committee 

Hon. George McAneny New York City 

Arnold W. Brunner New York City 

B. A. Haldeman Philadelphia 

Allen B. Pond Chicago 

Frank B. Williams, Esq, New York City 

Richard M. Hurd New York City 

W. F. Dummer Chicago 

T. Glenn Phillips Detroit 

Howard Strong Minneapolis 

John Ihlder New York City 

George E. Kessler St. Louis 

Maj. Joseph W. Shirley Baltimore 

A. A. Stoughton Winnipeg 

Meyer Lissner Los Angeles 

James D. Phelan San Francisco 

Paul L. Feiss Cleveland 

Munson Havens , Cleveland 

A. C. Comey Cambridge, Mass. 

Charles Mulford Robinson Rochester 

Vincent S. Stevens Akron, Ohio 

Col. D. N. Foster Fort Wayne, Ind. 

Prof. Aubrey Tealdi Ann Arbor, Mich. 

Eli D. Hofeller Buffalo 

Edward M. Bassett, Esq New York City 

John C. Dana Newark 

J. C. Murphy Louisville 

J. C. Nichols Kansas City, Mo. 

George B. Longan Kansas City, Mo. 



J. P. Hynes . Toronto 

Henry A. Barker Providence, R. I. 

Paul A. Harsch Toledo 

Robert W. Hemphill, Jr Ypsilanti, Mich. 

Richard Waterman Washington 

Morris Knowles Pittsburgh 

S. S. Kresge Detroit 

George B. Dealey Dallas, Tex. 

King G. Thompson Columbus, Ohio 

R. C. Sturgis Boston 

Charles H. Cheney Berkeley, Cal. 

M. N. Baker Montclair, N. J. 

Duncan McDuffie Berkeley, Cal. 

Henry Wright St. Louis 

Edward A. Filene Boston 

0. C. Simonds Chicago 

Dr. J. E. Peairs Pueblo, Colo. 

Edward H. Bouton Baltimore 

Hon. Fred W. Keller South Bend, Ind. 

Maj. Charles W. Kutz Washington 

L. S. Smith Madison, Wis. 

R. M. Hattie . Halifax 

Invitations to the Conference for 1915 

Invitations were received from Cleveland, Richmond, St. 
Louis, Atlantic City, Memphis, Baltimore, San Francisco. 

Voted: That the executive committee be authorized to 
select the meeting place for 1916. 

[244 ] 



On " Best Methods of Land Subdivision " 


At the last conference, held in Toronto, a special com- 
mittee was appointed to investigate the prevailing methods 
of land subdivision in the various parts of the United 
States and to present to this conference a report of their 
findings. An outline of the information desired, and sug- 
gested methods of procuring the same, were submitted to 
committees in various cities; and this report comprises an 
analysis of the information submitted by them. The fol- 
lowing municipalities have reported: 

Berkeley, Cal. Louisville, Ky. 

Boston, Mass. Montreal, Que. 

Bridgeport, Conn. New York, N. Y. 

Brookline, Mass. Newark, N. J. 

Chicago, 111. Philadelphia, Pa. 

Cleveland, Ohio Syracuse, N. Y. 

Detroit, Mich. Vancouver, B. C. 

Kansas City, Mo. Washington, D. C. 

and much information has been extracted from a paper by 
Lawrence Veiller, submitted to the Third National Con- 
ference on City Planning, held in Philadelphia in 1911. 

While the request for information comprised seven char- 
acteristics concerning which information was desired with 
reference to the subdivision plan, six statements of con- 
ditions as to dates, values, topography, etc., and four 
points as to physical, social and financial results, not 
enough information was obtainable from the various cities 
to make it possible to report comprehensibly with regard to 



each of these items. In some instances deductions have 
been drawn from the reports of only a single city with 
regard to the various subjects considered in this report 
along the following lines : 

1. Lot size 

(a) Typical dimensions 

(o) Change tendencies 

(c) Effect of size on buildings 

(d) Effect of size on values 

(e) Effect of restrictions 
(/) Alleys 

(g) Standards 

2. Streets 

Effect of width, character, direction, amount 
of travel, transportation facilities. 

Under each topic will first be given extracts from the 
various city reports, followed by a resume and the con- 
clusions which have been deduced by the reporter. 


BERKELEY, CAL. Hillegas Block 

The blocks were made 319 feet deep by 600 feet long. These blocks 
were subdivided into lots 50 by 159.45 feet, but these latter sub- 
divisions were not adhered to when the sale of the land was started. 
Some bought lots wider than 50 feet, while others bought narrower 
lots. With a few exceptions the lots 40 feet wide have been used, 
even in places where a choice as to the width was given. 


A most interesting example of a business block is shown in Fig. 
23, 1 a typical block in the heart of the Boston retail district. The 
original lots were 50 to 80 feet wide and 250 to 300 feet deep. The 
modern map shows the effect of continued division of the lots, leav- 
ing many of the units only 15 to 25 feet wide and between 50 and 65 
feet deep. The counter tendency, also modern, due to the need for 
larger areas for larger buildings, is shown in the northwest corner. 

1 Sketch accompanying report of a local committee. 



The town engineer's office of Brookline has on file copies of all 
plattings of land in Brookline which are on file at the registry of 
deeds, 2959 in number, and in addition 834 such plans not recorded 
at the registry. An examination of all these plans shows that they 
may be classified as follows: 

First. 712 subdivision plans which cover considerable areas and 
in which it is apparent that the depth of the lots was a matter of 
choice, since different depths could have been secured without af- 
fecting previously existing streets or outside properties. 

Second. 336 subdivision plans covering only a few lots each and 
where the depths of the lots appear to have been practically fixed 
by the size and shape of the whole parcel and by the location of exist- 
ing streets. 

Third. 525 plans of subdivisions of such irregular or abnormal 
sort that the lot sizes cannot readily be classified by width and 

Fourth. 1720 plans which are not subdivision plans at all but 
show one lot each or adjustments of boundaries, etc. 

The 712 plans of the first class have been examined and the lot 
sizes classified as shown by Table No. 1. 


The blocks of the original town (1832) of Chicago were divided 
into 80 foot lots generally. There were a few 30, 50 and 60 foot 
lots west of the river. The original lot lines were kept for the 
most part as long as the lots were used for residence purposes, al- 
though often split into two or three lots for one residence. 

As the city grew these residence lots changed into business, and 
with this change came the resubdivision of the blocks, not by the city 
but by the owners. A man wishing to build a store or factory figured 
how much property was required and made arrangements to acquire 
it, often getting probably 15 feet on one side and say 10 feet on the 
other. This condition has gone on until today there is very little 
trace of the original lot layout to be found in the business section. 
(The fire in 1871 may have had something to do with this condi- 
tion, but there was some tendency toward this before the fire.) 

The first additions to Chicago made before 1850 were laid out 
into 50 foot lots as a standard. 

Coming down to the later subdivisions which are at present in or 
near the center of the city, there are two distinct types used: one 
on the north and west sides, the other on the south side. On the 
north and west sides the lots were between 20 and 30 feet. On the 
south side the lots were 75 to 80 feet. 

In the original town, with the first extensions thereto, the depth of 



the typical 80 and 50 foot lots were generally from 160 to 180 feet, 
with a few lots as small as 130 feet. 

The depth of the present day typical lot is 125 feet. This has been 
the standard depth for more than forty years. 


In the plans submitted, one refers to a section of the city in the 
heart of the business district, and the other one to a block in the 
residence district. You will notice that in each case there was in- 
sufficient provision for cross streets, that the blocks were too long 
and the lots too deep, so that in each case resubdividing was neces- 
sary in order to make the land available. 

Except in the more expensive residence districts, there seems now 
locally to be a tendency to adopt a lot size of from 40 to 50 feet front- 
age and from 100 to 150 feet in depth, depending somewhat upon the 
extent of the land to be developed. A number of allotments are sup- 
plied with 35 foot lots, but the majority are somewhat greater in 


What are the best standard lot dimensions used and practical for 

Our answer would be, that the standard size for central residence 
properties for Detroit are 50 feet front, with a depth varying from 
100 to 190 feet, with a 20 foot alley or lane running across the rear. 

Wage earners' lots, platted just inside and outside of the city limits, 
are generally 30 feet front by 100 to 125 feet in depth, with a 20 foot 
alley running across the rear. 


The original subdivision shows the typical narrow, deep lot platted 
and used so much in Kansas City at one period, but which has 
practically been abandoned in residence additions. It will be seen 
that none of the better houses on Harrison Street used single lots. 
On Campbell Street, where the houses were less pretentions, the 
small lot was used. 


This committee early came to the conclusion that our present city 
lots are too deep. 200 feet is the depth of the original city blocks, 
but blocks have been made of lesser depth in land subdivision by 
private owners in later years, even to the extreme of 100 feet in a few 
cases. We might say, however, that the minimum depth has been 
due to physical conditions that were insurmountable; generally the 
strips of land being subdivided were too narrow to provide deeper 



lots. We have seen in the block we are studying that although the 
original lots were 200 feet deep, their owners cut them in two, mak- 
ing the lots 100 feet deep. This is well below the average depth, but 
we see that even this extreme has proven to be the more desirable, 
as shown by the block in question. 

While we are convinced that our lots are too deep for residence and 
ordinary business purposes, we are still groping for light and hope 
as a result of the experience collected by the general committee to 
be able to adopt something that will prove to be more satisfactory. 


The lot units are uniformly 100 feet deep and 25 feet wide in Man- 
hattan and the Bronx and 20 feet wide in Brooklyn, Queens and 


The prevailing lot size in Newark has been 25 by 100 feet. There 
are, however, numerous other subdivisions, especially of size 20 by 
100 feet. 


Village of Salina, surveyed in 1798, and laid out in 16 squares of 
396 feet on a side, and each square containing 4 lots, 198 by 198 feet. 

Later, when this area was further developed for residential pur- 
poses, the depth of the majority of the lots averaged 99 to 198 feet, 
while the frontages varied from 22 to 198 feet, with a general average 
of 493^ to 33, 66, 100 and 40 feet. 

This subdivision has varied but little for the last fifty years, except 
for the development of the industrial lots in the north and west. 

On the 1834 map of Syracuse the average large lot measurements 
are 140 by 485 feet, and the small ones 66 by 132 feet. 

In the university section, which is now practically all built up, 
the prevailing sizes of lots average 50, 60, 66, 80 feet, and a good 
number 100 feet, while in depth 132 and 165 feet predominate. 

In certain cheaper lands subdivisions have been made previous to 
1900 in which are found many lots of 33 feet width, varying in depth 
from 87^ to 150 feet, 132 foot lots predominating. 

On investigation of more recent subdivisions it was found that out 
of 11 examined, 5 showed an average of lots 40 by 120 feet, two 50 
by 150 feet, and one each of 33 by 120 feet, 40 by 140 feet, 40 by 
107 feet, and 40 by 143 feet. 


What, it may be asked, is the general practice in America today 
with regard to each of these important points? How have our streets 
been laid out in our leading cities? 



The only answer that can be made to these questions is that there 
is no general plan. The practice varies through infinite degrees in 
each city. In order to determine what the practice was, a question- 
naire was sent recently to all cities in the United States having over 
one hundred thousand population according to the latest census 
returns. This included the fifty largest cities in the United States. 
Definite returns to the questionnaire were received from the follow- 
ing forty-six cities: Albany, Atlanta, Boston, Bridgeport, Buffalo, 
Cambridge, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, 
Denver, Detroit, Fall River, Grand Rapids, Indianapolis, Jersey City, 
Kansas City, Los Angeles, Louisville, Lowell, Memphis, Milwaukee, 
Newark, New Haven, New Orleans, New York, Omaha, Paterson, 
N. J., Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Providence, Richmond, Rochester, 
San Francisco, Scranton, Seattle, Spokane, St. Louis, St. Paul, Syra- 
cuse, Toledo, Washington, Worcester, Nashville and Portland, Ore. 

The depth of lot, if one can judge from the information thus re- 
ceived, seems to vary from 50 to 200 feet. In the great majority of 
cities the lots exceed 100 feet in depth. In only three cases is the 
usual depth of lot less than 100 feet, namely, in the cities of Phila- 
delphia, where it ranges from 40 feet upward, in Lowell, Mass., 
where it ranges from 80 to 150 feet, and Washington, where it ranges 
from 50 to 100 feet. In twenty-five cases, or over one-half of all 
the cities, the usual lot is 125 feet or over. In nine cases, or one-fifth 
of all, the usual depth of lot is 150 feet or over. 

Berkeley . 
Boston . . 

Brookline . 
Chicago . . 
Cleveland . 
Detroit . . 
Kansas City 
Louisville . 
New York . 

Newark . . 

Syracuse . 

Veiller . . 


50 X 159.45 

50 to 80 X 250 to 300 originally; 15 to 25 X 50 
to 65 now 

30, 40 to 50 X 100 (125 few) 

40 to 60 X 90 to 100 (majority) 

50 to 80 X 160 to 180; 25 to 75 X 125 today 

40 to 50 X 100 to 150; few 35 

50 X 100 to 190; 30 X 100 to 125 

25 X 150 and larger 

— X 200 at first; — X 100 of late 

25 X 100 Manhattan, Bronx; 20 X 100 Brook- 
lyn, Queens, Richmond 

25 X 100; few 20 X 100 

14 to 16 X 45 to 125 mostly; 19 to 22 X 75 to 105 

200 X 200, 33 to 100 X 100 to 200; 140 X 486, 
66 X 132; 40 X 120, 5 out of 11 lots 

46 cities, — X 50 to 200; 25 more than 125; 9 
more than 150 



Philadelphia is in a class by itself, 15 X 60 average. 

New England (Boston, Brookline) is irregular but tending toward, 

40 to 60 X 90 to 100. 
New York (and Newark), 20 to 25 X 100. 
Middle and Western cities with later tendencies toward reduction 

in both dimensions, 50 X 150 average. 


A most interesting example of a business block is shown in Fig. 
23, 1 a typical block in the heart of the Boston retail district. 

The original lots were 50 to 80 feet wide and 250 to 300 feet deep. 
The modern map shows the effect of continued division of the lots, 
leaving many of the units only 15 to 25 feet wide and between 50 
and 65 feet deep. The counter tendency, also modern, due to the 
need for larger areas for larger buildings, is shown in the northwest 


The remaining lots of the original subdivision, between Walnut 
and Boylston streets on higher ground and a little further from the 
village, were in 1859 still 70 feet or more in width, but where they 
were originally more than 170 feet deep from street to street new lots 
100 feet deep facing on Boylston Street had been cut off the rear end 
of them. 

With few exceptions the lots running through from street to street 
have been cut in two, or at least occupied by independent buildings 
on the two frontages, even where the distance from street to street 
is only 80 feet, making lots only 40 feet deep. 

There has been a tendency, under the exigencies of use, to convert 
the lots shown on the filed plats into shallower and wider parcels. 
Omitting the irregular corner parcels in each case, the average width 
and depth of the platted lots, as per Diagram 2, of 1859 is about 
353^ by 783^ feet; of the lots in 1913, as per ownership lines on 
Diagram 3, about 43 by 78 feet; or reckoning a separate lot for each 
independent building having a frontage on the street where two or 
more are held by the same owner, the lots of 1913 average about 
40H by 76 feet. 


As the city grew these residence lots changed into business, and 
with this change came the resubdivision of the blocks, not by the 

1 Sketch accompanying local committee report, 
r OKQ n 



city but by the owners. A man wishing to build a store or factory 
figured how much property was required and made arrangements to 
acquire it, often getting probably 15 feet on one side and say 10 feet 
on the other. This condition has gone on until today there is very 
little trace of the original lot layout to be found in the business sec- 
tion. (The fire in 1871 may have had something to do with this con- 
dition, but there was some tendency toward this before the fire.) 
This may be due to some extent to the size of the lots, which were 
too large for ordinary use in a smaller town. 

The first additions to Chicago made before 1850 were laid out 
into 50 foot lots as a standard. This was probably due to the fact 
that the 80 foot lots were too large for general uses. These 50 foot 
lots have passed through much the same development as the 80 foot 
lots of the original town, and the same line of reasoning can be used 
in this case. 

On the north and west sides the lots were between 20 and 30 feet. 
These lots even today are intact, although often a single building 
may occupy as high as four or five of these small lots. However, 
where the business has pushed into this district it has not overrun 
the lot lines to any great extent. On the south side the lots were 
75 to 80 feet. These lots often proved to be too large and the re- 
sult is they were broken up into smaller lots. 

The depth of the present day typical lot is 125 feet. This has been 
the standard depth for more than forty years. 


This committee early came to the conclusion that our present city 
lots are too deep. 200 feet is the depth of the original city blocks, 
but blocks have been made of lesser depth in land subdivision by 
private owners in later years, even to the extreme of 100 feet in a few 
cases. We might say, however, that the minimum depth has been 
due to physical conditions that were insurmountable; generally the 
strips of land being subdivided were too narrow to provide deeper 
lots. We have seen in the block we are studying that although the 
original lots were 200 feet deep, their owners cut them in two, mak- 
ing the lots 100 feet deep. This is well below the average depth, but 
we see that even this extreme has proven to be the more desirable, 
as shown by the block in question. 


The development of the one family house in Philadelphia is especi- 
ally interesting. In the early growth of the city houses four stories 
high with deep lots were built in solid blocks; as the city was extended 
this type of dwelling gave way to the three story one upon a smaller 
lot, and still later the two story house came largely into vogue. With 



the change in the type of house there was a corresponding change 
in the size of the lot, the change being almost invariably toward 
shallower depths for the row houses. Today the tendency in some 
sections of the city is to erect the row house upon the shallowest lot 


On the 1834 map of Syracuse the average large lot measurements 
are 140 by 485 feet, and the small ones 66 by 132 feet. 

On investigation of more recent subdivisions it was found that out 
of 11 examined, 5 showed an average of lots 40 by 120 feet, two 50 
by 150 feet, and one each of 33 by 120 feet, 40 by 140 feet, 40 by 
107 feet, and 40 by 143 feet. 


Brookline . . . 90 to 100 large majority; 76 special study majority 
Chicago . . . .125 standard (for 40 years) ; 80 and 50 feet width 

split; 20 to 30 retained 
Louisville ... Reducing down to 100 depth 
New York . . . 100 standard (no change for over 100 years) 
Newark .... 100 standard 

Philadelphia . . Deep tending to shallowest possible (45?) 
Syracuse . . .128 average of 11 late additions 


General tendency shown toward reduction in depth, except New York 
(Newark) and Chicago at 100 and 125 respectively, 100 and 40 
year standards. 

Cities which had lots deeper than 100 tending toward that figure. 

New England with its irregular size tending below 100. 

Philadelphia tending to smallest possible. 

Widths in all places (except Philadelphia) tend down to about 
30, while larger and wider than 20 are recommended every- 


BERKELEY, CAL. Hillegas Block 

A peculiarity of this block is its excessive depth of lots. This was 
necessary because the block was made too wide, and as only two rows 
of houses could be secured, the depth of lot adopted was necessarily 
large. The excess of land, after the house on each lot was built, was 
not used for agricultural or any other purposes, which might either 



have brought additional revenue or added beauty to the surround- 
ings. The reason probably was that the area was too large to be 
taken care of properly by the owner. 

Due to the excessive depth of these lots, whose excess land could 
not be used for any purpose, rear houses have been erected. These 
houses are just as large and of the same character as the front 

In lots 40 feet wide and 159.48 feet deep there has been a tendency 
to build one and even two rear houses. 

Lots 96 feet deep have answered the purpose well for the build- 
ing of one residence only. 


A man wishing to build a store or factory figured how much prop- 
erty was required and made arrangements to acquire it, often get- 
ting probably 15 feet on one side and say 10 feet on the other. This 
condition has gone on until today there is very little trace of the 
original lot layout to be found in the business section. (The fire in 
1871 may have had something to do with this condition, but there 
was some tendency toward this before the fire.) This may be due 
in some extent to the size of the lots, which were too large for ordinary 
use in a smaller town. Yet when the town grew this splitting which 
occurred may have been merely the fact that a man wanted a cer- 
tain amount of property and got it in any way possible. 

The first additions to Chicago made before 1850 were laid out into 
50 foot lots as a standard. This was probably due to the fact that 
the 80 foot lots were too large for general uses. These 50 foot lots 
have passed through much the same development as the 80 foot 
lots of the original town and the same line of reasoning can be used 
in this case. 

On the north and west sides the lots were between 20 and 30 feet. 
These lots even today are intact, although often a single building 
may occupy as high as four or five of these small lots. The reason 
for the retention of the original lot lines may be the smallness of the 
lots, or it may be in the fact that even today most of this property 
is used for residence and not for business. However, where the busi- 
ness has pushed into this district it has not overrun the lot lines to 
any great extent. On the south side the lots were 75 to 80 feet. 
These lots often proved to be too large and the result is they were 
broken up into smaller lots. 

For the poorer residential districts the depth of 125 feet is not 
economical. There are many cases where houses have been built two 
or three deep in these lots and quite commonly a store occupies the 
front of the lot and a dwelling the rear. The depth of lot, therefore, 
depends upon the occupancy. 




From local observations it seems to be true that when lots are made 
too large it seems to depreciate the property, inviting as it does the 
building of buildings in the rear of the lot, as the property is no longer 
in demand for first class residence purposes. These buildings in the 
rear of course tend toward congestion and improper building con- 


The excessive width of the block (nearly 450 feet) has resulted in 
the past few years in Van Trump Court, a private way with five cheap 
apartment houses, and Cherry Lane, a platted "dead end" street 
serving three duplex houses of a rather good class. 

The original subdivision shows the typical 25 foot deep lot platted 
and used so much in Kansas City at one period, but which has prac- 
tically been abandoned in residence additions. It will be seen that 
none of the better houses on Harrison Street used single lots. On 
Campbell Street, where the houses were less pretentious, the small 
lot was used. 


As a result of the great depth of lot, purchasers have bought as 
few front feet as possible and there have developed different classes of 
narrow, rather long houses. In nearly all cases in Louisville we build 
single detached dwellings; consequently, when building a detached 
dwelling on a narrow lot, you have an attenuated affair that must 
depend for light and air on windows opening into narrow, more or 
less dark and damp passages. Occasionally in the older portions of 
the city you will find what is locally called a " double " house, a 
house open to the front and back but with a blank dividing wall 
through the center. Such houses therefore can get light from one 
side only. As this type of house was generally built three or more 
rooms deep and on narrow lots, we find the troubles of the single 
house in more intensified form. The inner rooms are dark and there 
is a lack of air and freshness. Seldom do we find a block of more 
than two houses attached. In recent years we have the apartment 
house in all styles and grades, from the converted two or three story 
single dwelling of former times to the large modern structure of 
thirty to forty apartments. 

In the business portion of the city we find the same general ob- 
jection to the narrow lot that is found in the residence section. A 
very deep narrow shop with congestion at entrance and dulness at 
the distant rear. In order to get any considerable frontage, which 
in most branches is extremely valuable by reason of the opportunity 
it gives to display goods to the public, the shopkeeper is forced to 



the expediency of taking two or more lots, which leaves unused space 
in the rear. This obviously is a most uneconomical method. 

The shortening of lots will no doubt have a tendency to widen them, 
and do it without unduly increasing the cost of the land. More 
streets for frontage, combined with fewer and narrower cross or con- 
necting streets, would enable the landowner to do this without a 
burden on the purchaser and we would have districts that would 
more nearly retain their value. Under present conditions where a 
block has been built up we invariably find the same uninviting pas- 
sages that have a depressing effect on property values, as they impel 
the residents to abandon their undesirable houses and move out 
into the newer sections. This tendency is a great economic waste; 
it reduces the income of the property owner, reduces the city's revenue 
from taxation and we soon have, if not a slum, at least a most un- 
inviting section that is always retrogressing. 


These widths of blocks are not at all binding in practice, as the 
lots have been recombined in all sorts of combinations. The results 
are that we find houses built on lots only 12 feet wide and 100 feet 
deep, in places. 

The minimum practicable lot width for tenements under the pres- 
ent tenement law has become 373^ feet for five and six story tene- 
ments or 25 feet for three and four story tenements. 


It would seem that in establishing these arbitrary standard lot 
sizes, which prevail in other cities as well as in Newark, we have 
worked backwards, for in establishing a lot dimension, particularly 
width, we at once determine to a large extent the structure which 
must go upon that lot, whereas it would seem to be more logical to 
regulate the size of lot after having determined the character and 
best dimensions for the particular structure which is to be built 
thereon. For dwelling purposes it has been found that detached 
structures are usually best when lot widths are 25 feet or over — 
conditions are generally bad when the width is less. A width of 30 
feet is advisable. The width of dwellings which adjoin each other 
should be no less than 20 feet — this would provide for walls, hall 
and one room — so that only in the case of adjoining dwellings 
would a subdivision of 20 feet be recommended, and this in turn could 
profitably be increased to 24 or 25 feet. 

With regard to depth of subdivision, it has been found that many 
of the worst housing conditions in Newark have occurred upon 
what originally were lots having a depth of 100 feet, due to the fact 
that the depth has been altered and so-called back lot structures 
have been erected. 




Our studies indicate the present tendencies of land development 
in Philadelphia and these tendencies are in some respects unfor- 

The development of the one family house in Philadelphia is es- 
pecially interesting. In the early growth of the city, houses four 
stories high with deep lots were built in solid blocks; as the city 
was extended this type of dwelling gave way to the three story one 
upon a smaller lot and still later the two story house came largely 
into vogue. With the change in the type of house there was a cor- 
responding change in the size of the lot, the change being almost 
invariably toward shallower depths for the row houses. Today the 
tendency in some sections of the city is to erect the row house upon 
the shallowest lot permitted. 

Some of the early four story houses, which were large and sub- 
stantial, are now used as boarding houses, apartment houses or 
lodging houses, and some have been converted to business uses with- 
out any change of lot lines, alterations of the fronts and interiors be- 
ing made to accommodate them to the new use. This occurs in 
practically every section of the city where local business is encouraged. 

Our Study No. 1 1 shows a section in the suburb of Germantown 
where the properties were originally quite large and were occupied 
by large mansions. The growth of urban improvements in the 
vicinity has driven out families who originally occupied this sec- 
tion and the large properties are now being subdivided and con- 
verted to the uses of the smaller house as indicated in the study. 
This form of conversion of use is increasing in some sections of the 

The attention of your committee is called particularly to Study 
No. 5, 1 which shows considerable variety in the form of the develop- 
ment, which is an original and comparatively recent one. This study 
also indicates a method of original subdivision of a large property 
which now very seldom occurs, as the present practice is for builders 
to buy a block or more of property, subdivide it into the small lots, 
erect small houses and sell the properties to individual home owners 
or investors. 

Study No. 16 * shows the manner in which property is developed 
into the two story flats, which are becoming popular in certain parts 
of the city, especially in West Philadelphia, and you will notice that 
these subdivisions are in form similar to the practice of erecting the 
one family house and the buildings erected upon them are similar 
in character to the two story one family house. We do not know 
of the existence of improvements of this particular type in any other 

1 Sketches accompanying local committee report. 




I will say that I have selected a square that for years has been 
known as Willow Tree Alley. It is a large square, located near the 
Botanical Gardens and only a few blocks from the Capitol itself. 
For a good many years it has been known as one of the worst dis- 
tricts in Washington, with very congested conditions and small 
houses, in which lived a dangerous and criminal class of people. The 
square was so large that there were many interior alleys, some known 
as blind alleys. A few years ago, by congressional enactment, the 
interior of that square was bought, buildings cleared away and there 
is now a very fine playground there, leaving the square in this present 
shape a line of residences on the four sides of the square, the in- 
terior being an entirely open space for playground purposes, sur- 
rounded by ornamental fences which have been tastefully decorated 
with plants and vines. The effect has been to eliminate the bad class 
of population and to make the square now a center for the children 
in the daytime and for the adults in the evening. It is in a section 
of the city in which the negroes are the prevailing population. 


But the far more important determination is the distance between 
streets: namely, the lot plan and the block plan. To the deep lot 
we can trace most of our housing evils so far as they relate to land 


Berkeley . . . Lots 150 feet deep produce rear houses 

Brookline . . . Lots even 70 to 80 feet (chiefly above 100) have 
had rear buildings erected 

Chicago . . . . 125 feet depth not economical for poor residential 
districts; 80 feet width too large for general 
use, even 50 feet is split and redivided, 20 to 30 
foot lots being retained 

Cleveland . . . "Too large" (deep) lots tend to rear buildings 
with congestion and depression of value 

Kansas City . . Good residences use wider than 25 feet, poorer 
ones use 25 feet width 

Louisville . . . Deep lots lead to narrow ones with dark houses, 
and bad shaped stores; narrow lots with rear 
dwellings are depressed in value 

New York . . . Less than 100 feet impracticable for lofts, offices, 
apartments; also gives bad tenements because 
no open space in center of block. More than 
100 gives narrow bad tenement courts 



Newark .... Lot width tends to determine class of structure. 
Narrow lots — narrow houses. 100 feet affords 
room for rear tenements 

Philadelphia . . Single house tendency has dictated lot size, un- 
fortunately. In conversion to business use 
original lot lines usually followed, although 
often ignored 

Veiller .... Most housing troubles due to deep lots 


Lot area seems to be the original determining factor. Deep lots are 
made narrow; narrow lots lead to narrow buildings — bad for 
residence or business. Deep lots even down to 70 to 80 feet 
tend toward having rear buildings — often residences. These 
conditions lead toward congestion with lowered values. 

Except in Philadelphia, lot size has generally influenced building 
size and number per lot. In Philadelphia desire for single family 
house has developed small size of lot. 


BERKELEY, CAL. Hillegas Block 

Due to the excessive depth of these lots, whose excess land could 
not be used for any purpose, rear houses have been erected. These 
houses are just as large and of the same character as the front houses. 
Investigation also shows that whenever two or more houses are built 
on the same lot these belong to the same proprietor. 

The value of land has increased considerably since the subdivision 
of the tract was made. In 1862 the price of land around the Hillegas 
Tract was $100 per acre. Today it is a hundred times as much. 
This is probably due to the topographical location of the block in 
question, and to the great demand of land in this site. 

The value of the land increases as we approach the market cen- 
ters and decreases as we recede from them. 


It is probable that the average land value for the town increased 
between 250 and 300 per cent from 1874 to 1913 as compared with 
an increase of 30 to 40 per cent in the White Farm district. This 
small increase appears to have been due mainly to the fact that most 
of the district was largely occupied at the earlier date in such a 
manner that a low price was almost the only means by which 
purchasers could be attracted. 




The building of a cheaper class of dwellings in the alleys such as 
has resulted in the block under consideration is quite common in 
Louisville, resulting in an unsanitary condition of affairs that is not 
only prejudicial to the physical but to the moral health of localities 
in which it exists. 

The shortening of lots will no doubt have a tendency to widen them 
and do it without unduly increasing the cost of the land. More 
streets for frontage, combined with fewer and narrower cross or con- 
necting streets, would enable the landowner to do this without a 
burden on the purchaser and we would have districts that would 
more nearly retain their value. Under present conditions where a 
block has been built up we invariably find the same uninviting pas- 
sages that have a depressing effect on property values, as they impel 
the residents to abandon their undesirable houses and move out into 
the newer sections. This tendency is a great economic waste; it 
reduces the income of the property owner, reduces the city's revenue 
from taxation and we soon have, if not a slum, at least a most unin- 
viting section that is always retrogressing. 


We took a typical block and drew it out at the same scale for five 
different periods. 

In 1853 the rear portions of the deep lots were used for wash houses 
or small work houses, but we want particularly to have you note the 
unrestricted intensive use of some of the lots on the side streets where 
we find two-family wooden houses, filling the rear portion of the 
over-deep lots with only a narrow passageway giving access to the 

We find this same unpleasant feature existing in 1884. The same 
wooden houses thirty years older but with the value of the property 
doubled. We find the rise in land values and the depth and narrow- 
ness of the lots forcing the erection of tenements four, five and six 
rooms deep with no light except from the street or from the rear yard. 

The minimum practicable lot width for tenements under the pres- 
ent tenement law has become 373^ feet for five and six story tene- 
ments or 25 feet for three and four story tenements. The land values 
in this neighborhood, however, seem to demand at least a five story 

The standard lot width seems to have little or no effect, as they are 
varied to suit the wishes of the individual property owners. 


Within certain limits you are right in assuming that an increase 
in frontage has a larger influence upon the value of small houses than 



the increase in the depth of the lot; for instance, while there might 
be no appreciable difference in the selling value of such a lot having 
a depth of from 45 to 60 feet, there would be a very appreciable 
difference in the value between a similar lot having a 14 foot frontage 
and one having a 15 foot frontage. 

Study No. 20 1 is in an old section of West Philadelphia which was 
built up on what was then the edge of building improvements and 
at a time when there were no street improvements and when the 
conditions in the surrounding area were uninviting. The houses were 
cheap ones built upon small lots, from which the builder realized good 
profits, but the character of the occupancy of these houses and the 
lack of care and neglect to make repairs has resulted in serious de- 
preciation during the nearly forty years they have been in use. 

It is generally assumed that the useful life of houses of this kind 
is about fifty years and it generally occurs that after twenty-five 
years of use they depreciate rapidly and in a majority of instances 
those properties which represent about the minimum size of lot be- 
come slum districts. The buildings are of little value and the terri- 
tory in which they exist has become to some extent a blighted 

You no doubt appreciate the fact that the one family row house is 
being built in great numbers in this city every year and the general 
tendency of people who can afford to do so is to move from a dwell- 
ing which is beginning to deteriorate into newer dwellings where all 
of the appurtenances and appointments are first class and up to date. 
This invariably results in a depreciation of values and of rentals 
and occupancy by a less desirable and less prosperous class of tenants. 


Berkeley . . . Land values are independent of lot or building 

class and depend on usableness of property 
Brookline . . . Poor occupancy restrains rise in values 
Louisville . . . Building cheap class of houses detrimental to 

moral health of community. Shallower lots 

will stabilize values 
New York . . . Land values are independent of lot or building 

class and depend on usableness of property 
Philadelphia . . Increased frontage has larger effect than depth. 

Poor occupancy depresses values 
Washington . . Effect of opening up center of a large block for 

playground purposes has been to eliminate bad 

class of population 

1 Sketch accompanying Philadelphia report. 




Where growth is active, either in number of residences or conversion 
to other uses, the existing lot and building size is of little moment. 
Where conversion is slower, the larger plots are worth more be- 
cause more easily converted. Established poor occupancy 
tends to depress or at least restrain increase of values through 
natural depreciation and shift of classes of occupants dependent 
upon condition of dwelling. 


BERKELEY, CAL. Hillegas Block 

When the first subdivision was made there were no restrictions 
controlling the type or location of the buildings. But it was under- 
stood that a fairly good class of residences was required to be built. 
Consequently houses costing $1800 to $2000 were built. These were 
mostly shingle houses, but lately a higher type of multiple house of 
stucco has been erected in lot (12). The houses are built almost 
uniformly 25 feet from the street line. This space is used as a lawn. 


One thing, however, is clear, even from a superficial study of land 
subdivision in its relation to housing, namely, that the worst results 
usually have not been due to the low standard or the lack of fitness 
of the subdivision into blocks and lots for its original purpose, but 
rather to its lack of fitness for the purposes to which there was after- 
wards an attempt to adapt it; or else to the lack of regulation, or the 
low standard which the public permitted to be applied. Here I be- 
lieve public regulation and control would be of great benefit. 

In investigating the history of the double lot marked "A," we find 
that the original houses were owned by Irish who later sold to Slavs. 
The latter were content to hold to the open development, but not 
so the Italians, who came into possession in the late nineties. They 
immediately built a brick three family dwelling in the rear and about 
a year ago made most remarkable changes. The old house on the 
west side of the lot was moved to the rear of the original house 
on the east, two then being joined together as shown. A large 
brick three story tenement for six families was then erected, leaving 
as the only open space a little interior courtyard to which an 
approach 4 feet wide leads between houses. 


A short distance to the northeast was formerly the center of a 
colored settlement. Shortly after 1884 this settlement, which was 



a growing one, spread out and later overlapped the block, driving 
out the whites who abandoned their homes to the colored element. 

The first encroachment of the colored people caused the building 
of cheap frame houses for that class fronting on the alley. These are 
largely individual or two family frame houses. The original houses 
fronting the surrounding streets were converted, or rather used, as tene- 
ments of one or more rooms each, little alteration being made in them. 

The section is now given over entirely to colored tenants and the 
neighborhood has reached a low order when measured by property 

Owing to the baneful effect the settlement by colored residents has 
on the market value of real estate in any section in which they begin 
to come, the city of Louisville, at the urgent request of many prop- 
erty owners in sections threatened by such settlement, passed a seg- 
regation ordinance. This ordinance prohibits the occupation by 
colored people of dwellings in any city block in which the whites are 
in a majority, at the same time prohibiting the moving of whites into 
any block in which colored people are in the majority. 


One of the greatest difficulties as brought out by this map is the 
harm done in the rest of the block by the incursion of factory lofts, 
warehouses or stables which cover almost the whole plot, contribut- 
ing nothing to the light and air space in the center of the block. 


While it is desirable to have a depth of 100 feet, it appears that some 
restriction, more stringent than that now enforced, should be estab- 
lished which would prohibit these undesirable back lot buildings. 

Two of the studies presented above show that in sections equally 
distant from the center of the city land values have actually stood 
still for the past twenty-five years, while the normal increase for the 
entire city during that time has been somewhat over 200 per cent. 
The third section, however, shows that in a residential district, the 
same distance from the center of the city as the other two, land 
values have increased to a greater extent than that of the average 
increase for the city. The apparent reason for the increase in the 
residential section is that more or less stringent restrictions have ap- 
parently been enforced by the private owners. It would seem that 
the reason for the non-increase in value in the first two sections is 
apparently due to promiscuous development which has lead to the 
intermingling of tenements, factories, stores, stables, etc. This chaos 
is typical of the foreign quarters not alone of Newark but in other 
cities, and can be explained apparently by the fact that there has 
been a lack of restriction by competent authority. While building 



codes, tenement house laws, etc., prohibit much undesirable housing, 
it is only through the restrictions established by private owners 
that good developments are carried out. Herein seems to lie not only 
the advisability but even the necessity for restrictions to be enforced 
by the municipality or other competent authority. 


Methods of development will change very materially if "zoning" 
should become a general practice, and this possibility should be 
seriously considered in connection with any change in the practices 
of land subdivision. 

A section of this city once occupied by its first families is now 
largely occupied by the foreign element and once handsome residences 
have become almost, if not quite, slums; on the other hand, some 
of our smallest dwellings are perfectly sanitary and wholesome places 
in which to live. Land subdivision in itself, without proper control 
of the occupancy and use of the land and without the enforcement of 
proper health and sanitary regulations, would scarcely have any large 
influence in raising the physical, intellectual or moral standards of a 


Berkeley . . . Voluntary restriction works well toward increas- 
ing values 

Bridgeport . . Lack of restrictions permitted bad housing con- 
ditions to grow 

Louisville . . . Colored problem has dictated restrictions 

New York . . . Lack of restriction as to per cent of lot area cov- 
ered has been detrimental 

Newark .... Restricted districts have increased in value, others 
have not 

Philadelphia . . Zoning will materially affect problem 


Legal restrictions as to per cent of lot which may be covered, shape 
of courts and locations of buildings on lots, must be added to 
conditioning lot sizes if best results are to be attained. 


For the better class of residences, lots of this depth are not too 
deep. As the Chicago blocks are divided longitudinally by alleys, 
it gives an opportunity for the garages or stables to be reached 
through the alleys without the need of entrance drives between the 




The blocks in subdivisions range from 400 to 600 feet in length, 
with the streets or avenues 50 to 66 feet in width, from lot line to lot 
line. Each block has a 20 foot "H" shaped alley, which permits the 
facing of the lots on the four streets in the block, and allowing for an 
alley in the rear of each lot. 


The excessive width of the block (nearly 450 feet) has resulted in 
the past few years in Van Trump Court, a private way with five cheap 
apartment houses, and Cherry Lane, a platted "dead end" street 
serving three duplex houses of a rather good class. 

It might be added that there has been as yet comparatively little 
development in the way of courts or private ways in Kansas City, 
and that this block is wider than the average. 

Alleys, which are not now used in the better residence additions 
here, were then considered a necessity. 


This portion of the city is practically level and is laid out on the 
gridiron plan. The block is 420 by 420 feet on property lines with 
streets 60 feet wide on all sides. 

The lots fronting on Chestnut and Magazine streets were originally 
200 feet deep, abutting on what is locally termed a blind alley, i. e., 
opened at one end. This alley is 20 feet wide. 

The first encroachment of the colored people caused the 
building of cheap frame houses for that class fronting on the 

The law also prohibits the building of a tenement house in an alley 
unless there is left at least 25 feet from the front line of the tenement 
to the property line on the opposite side of alley. A single house or 
two family tenement may be built on an alley of any width provided 
six feet is left between the front of building and the property line. 
As some of our alleys are only 10 feet wide it can happen that a two 
family tenement might be built within 16 feet of a building on the 
opposite side of alley. 

We might add that it is almost the invariable custom in Louisville 
to provide alleys in all of its city blocks varying in width from 
10 to 20 feet. Very few blocks in the older parts of the city are 
without alleys and it is very difficult to wean the people away from 
them. Of late years, however, the sentiment in this respect is chang- 
ing, some of the later subdivisions being without alleys. The im- 
provement has been noted and many of our city builders are pre- 
dicting the general adoption of the newer custom. 




The alley is both a blessing and a curse. As a means of letting 
light and air into the interior of city blocks that would otherwise be 
without it, it is a distinct gain. And the few cities that have no alleys 
feel their misfortune in this regard most keenly. The small, pocketed 
back yards, shut away from the free current of air, are unknown in 
the city with alleys. The alley is generally, however, an evil. As a 
minor street, hidden away at the rear of everything, it becomes the 
dumping-ground for all the cast-off material of humanity. Here will 
be found collected, in all stages of picturesque disorder and sordid 
squalor, all of the unpleasant things of our material existence. 

Of the forty-five cities which made returns to the questionnaire, 
above referred to, twenty-five, or over half, reported that a system 
of alleys was general in their community. It is interesting to find 
that in several of them, as in Cleveland and Kansas City, Mo., for 
instance, they report that in the old part of the city the alley system 
is general, but that alleys do not exist in the new. 


Chicago .... Alleys deliberately designed 

Detroit .... Alleys deliberately designed 

Kansas City . . In very large blocks, alleys have been used 

Louisville . . . Large blocks had alleys (sometimes blind). They 

had poor quality structures erected on them. 

Modern tendencies are away from use of alleys 
Veiller .... 25 cities deliberately designed alleys 


Efforts to make use of waste land in deep lots was one cause of alleys 
In some cities they were deliberately designed 

Their presence, whether deliberate or evolutionary, is bad as now 


BERKELEY, CAL. Hillegas Block 

Diagram 3 x represents suggestions and recommendations for an 

ideal and practical subdivision of the block in question. 
For the purpose of one house a lot 40 by 100 feet is used. 
The area thus left vacant because of the excessive depth of the 

block is converted into a block playground. 

1 Accompanying Berkeley report. 




The depth of the present day typical lot is 125 feet. This has been 
the standard depth for more than forty years. 

For the better class of residences, lots of this depth are not too 
deep. As the Chicago blocks are divided longitudinally by alleys, 
it gives an opportunity for the garages or stables to be reached 
through the alleys without the need of entrance drives between the 

For business blocks this depth is good, for it permits the construc- 
tion of buildings around ample courtyards. This remark applies 
also to the better class apartment houses. 

For the poorer residential districts the depth of 125 feet is not 
economical. There are many cases where houses have been built 
two or three deep in these lots and quite commonly a store occupied 
the front of the lot and a dwelling the rear. The depth of lot, there- 
fore, depends upon the occupancy. 

As dwellings give way to business the greater depth is justified. 


The theory of this arrangement of blocks and lots is based on the 
idea that the minimum dimension of streets must be 50 or 60 feet, 
in order to take care of the future traffic. For traffic reasons there 
is also a limit to the practicable length of blocks. The result was 
that it was soon found that if the land for sale was going to be in any 
just proportion to the land in the streets, a depth of less than 100 
feet would be impracticable. 

Our problem in New York is as follows: could the lot be any 
shallower, or could the lot be wider, or could the streets be narrower 
under New York conditions? Even as it is now the streets occupy 
from 35 to 40 per cent of the space occupied by buildings, or between 
25 and 30 per cent of the total area. The New York lot is based on 
local usages and customs and is designed with a particular view to 
convertibility, for taking care of growth and change of use. A less 
depth than 100 feet would be impracticable for the larger offices, 
stores, factories, warehouses, hotels, apartment houses, etc. How- 
ever, when we come to examine the few lots which are deeper than 
100 feet we find that they bring about the erection of tenements with 
unpleasantly narrow and deep courts, and that they have no other 
advantage except for certain types of manufacture. When we come 
to lots less than 100 feet deep we find that the common tendency is 
to build them leaving no light and air space in the center of the block. 


In attempting to establish any fixed dimensions for land subdivi- 
sion — particularly for dwelling purposes — it must be borne in 



mind that a very definite relation exists between width and depth, 
which relation can only be established after the best dimensions of 
the structure are determined — these in turn being governed by the 
size and arrangement of rooms, halls, stairs and walls. It would 
therefore seem logical to first determine what are the best standard 
room dimensions and arrangement to adopt under various conditions 
before attempting to fix standard size for land subdivisions. 


It has appeared to us that one of the chief objects of this investiga- 
tion should be to recommend, and if possible obtain, such control as 
will provide for methods of subdivision which will not only be more 
economical in the subdivision of land for the original purposes for 
which it is to be used, but will encourage better housing, better neigh- 
borhood surroundings, larger opportunities for practical and progres- 
sive city planning and greater permanence and stability of urban 


Realizing, however, the tendencies that will be at work in future 
years even in the best residence sections of cities, it is the part of 
wisdom to establish as the standard a lot of the shallowest depth 
practicable. What that depth should be will, of course, vary in each 
community. In general, the owner will desire to have a spacious 
front yard, a building sufficiently deep to meet his demands, a 
spacious back yard and generally room for a garage or stable at the 
extreme rear of the lot. This means a lot generally speaking of 125 
feet in depth. 

What is the desirable lot unit for a tenement section? My answer 
is a lot unit which will result in houses not more than two rooms deep. 

For our large cities and for our industrial towns I believe the lots 
should not exceed in depth 25 or 30 feet. This means that there 
would be no front yard and no back yard; that the houses, built in 
continuous rows, would have one frontage on one street and another 
frontage on another street. 

But for the ordinary laborer, especially the large foreign popula- 
tion which is coming to predominate in our American cities, the de- 
tached house is not desirable. In the first place we should frankly 
recognize that the common unskilled laborer of the type just de- 
scribed cannot afford to pay for the vacant land at the front and 
rear of his dwelling. It is too great a drain upon his scant income. 

It will be seen from a consideration of questions involved that the 
desirable depth of lot depends largely on the uses to which the neigh- 
borhood is to be put. For high class residence purposes lots should 
be 125 feet deep; for the homes of the better paid artisans and nie- 



chanics lots should be 50 feet deep; for the homes of the unskilled 
laborer and what we call the "poor" the lots should be 25 feet in 


Bebkeley ... 110 feet depth used in ideal rearrangement 
Chicago . . . .125 feet depth except poorer residential sections 
New York ... 100 feet depth best for convertibility 
Newark .... House with proper size and arrangement of rooms 

should be the basis 
Philadelphia . . Desires a standard 
Veiller .... Shallowest possible (high class residence 125; 

middle class residence 50; poor class residence 



A standard is exceedingly desirable. 

100 to 125 feet is apparent aim of best standardized conditions and 

of present tendencies. It is divisible according to Veiller. 
Restrictions should be imposed in any event. 


The original lots were made to face east and west, but on account 
of the importance of 3d and 4th streets (leading to the business center) 
most of the buildings on the corner lots face upon these streets; in 
fact it will be seen that a re-division of ^ block was made previous 
to 1881, recognizing the importance of the east and west streets. 
This re-division was probably made previous to 1870 or perhaps 

Troost Avenue is a section line, and since about 1890 has had 
street car service, the terminus for awhile being 33d, which caused 
somewhat of a business center to spring up there. About 1890 or 
previous some very fine residences were built on Troost Avenue in 
the block north, establishing this as a high class district. 

Between 1900 and 1905 Linwood Avenue was transformed into 
Linwood Boulevard, now one of the most traveled boulevards of 
the city. This increased the value of the property, making it too 
valuable for residences. High class family hotels, clubs, churches 
and apartments have since been built on the boulevard. Two hotels 
are shown in this block. Troost Avenue has been transformed into 
a local business center with garages, stores, moving picture theaters, 



Ninth and Tenth streets are more important than Harrison and 
Campbell, because they lead directly to the retail district. The 
natural tendency for the houses at the ends of the block to front the 
important street is shown. The buildings at the southwest corner of 
the block are cheap one story houses; those at the northeast corner, 
flats; and the remainder, with the exception of the large church, are 
residences. Those facing on 10th Street and many of those on Camp- 
bell are occupied by negroes. 


We find the rise in land values and the depth and narrowness of 
the lots forcing the erection of tenements four, five and six rooms 
deep with no light except from the street or from the rear yard. 

Large stable and factory units have also appeared in the block, 
each covering from two to four lots. 

Bleecker Street has become almost exclusively a business street. 
West Third Street has also, due to the elevated railroad which was 
built there in 1878. 

The tallest buildings are only six and seven stories high as the 
land values do not warrant the erection of higher buildings. 

The land values in this neighborhood, however, seem to demand 
at least a five story tenement. 


Some time subsequent to the erection of the buildings upon Poplar 
and Wyalusing streets, the local station which had been maintained 
by the Pennsylvania Railroad at Fortieth Street, about 300 feet 
south of Penngrove Street, was abandoned, and this resulted in many 
of the residents removing to sections of the city where the trans- 
portation facilities were better, although there are a number of sur- 
face lines to different parts of the city passing along Girard Avenue 
which is one square north of Poplar Street. The people who sub- 
sequently moved into the neighborhood were not so well off and 
when the properties fronting on Penngrave Street were erected the 
same class of people occupied them. The general character of the 
neighborhood fell off somewhat, which accounts for the depreciation 
in values and of rents in this particular neighborhood. 

As a rule the operative builders find much larger demand for the 
small houses on intermediate streets than they do for the larger and 
more expensive ones on main streets and they have been much more 
successful in educating people to be contented with the minimum size 
yard than the city planning authorities have been in educating them 
to a desire for larger yard areas. 

It has become an almost invariable custom in Philadelphia, under 
our system of establishing the street system far in advance of im- 



provements, for the first improvement to be of a character that lasts 
for a great many years; these improvements are in the form of the 
single family row house, the detached, or semi-detached dwelling 
and the single residence of a higher type which is erected in some 
suburban sections, the class first mentioned being greatly in the 


(a) Width 

(See alleys and their effect) 
Philadelphia . . Width determines early development 

(b) Character 

Philadelphia . . Greater demand off main streets 

(c) Direction 

Kansas City . . Direction (toward business district) has effect on 

(d) Traffic 

Kansas City . . Amount and kind of travel influences use and 

New York . . . 

(e) Transportation Facilities 

Philadelphia . . Values fell off with poorer transportation facilities 


Streets of alley width affect conditions and values 

Philadelphia narrow lots are on narrow streets by preference. 
(Average 30 St. 14 lot, 40 St. 15.5 lot, 60 St. 16.6 lot, except 1 
at 60 and 1 at 100, 80 St. 20 lot, except 1 at 60) 

Streets leading to business center or having much traffic have greater 
values and more expensive structures 




On the Constitution and Powers of a City Planning 

The Committee on Administrative Procedure sent out a 
questionnaire in relation to the constitution and powers of 
a city planning authority to 246 individuals and city plan- 
ning commissions; 80 replies were received from the 
following : 

Thomas Adams, Towning Planning Adviser, Commission of Conser- 
vation, Ottawa, Canada. 

A. H. Andrews, Executive Secretary, Chamber of Commerce, New 
Britain, Conn. 

Carol Aronovici, Director, Bureau of Social Research, Philadel- 
phia, Pa. 

Roger N. Baldwin, Secretary, Civic League, St. Louis, Mo. 

Harland Bartholomew, Secretary, City Plan Commission, Newark, 
N. J. 

Edward M. Bassett, Chairman, Commission on Building Districts 
and Restrictions, New York. 

E. H. Bennett, Architect, Chicago, HI. 

G. Frank Beer, Toronto Housing Co., Toronto, Canada. 

Alfred Bettman, Lawyer, Cincinnati, Ohio. 

Arthur C. Comey, Commissioner, Homestead Commission, Boston, 

Otto W. Davis, Secretary, Committee on Housing, Civic and Com- 
merce Association, Minneapolis, Minn. 

John M. Demarest, General Manager, Sage Foundation Homes Co., 
Forest Hills, L. I. 

Richard C. Derby, Real Estate Operator, Newport, R. I. 

Chas. E. Esterbrook, Lawyer, Milwaukee, Wis. 

Paul L. Feiss, Member, Chamber of Commerce, Cleveland, Ohio. 

Mayo Fesler, Secretary, Civic League, Cleveland, Ohio. 

Edwin A. Fisher, Consulting Engineer to City of Rochester, Roch- 
ester, N. Y. 



Andrew J. Gavett, City Surveyor and Street Commissioner," Plain- 
field, N. J. 

Charles E. Gibson, Chairman, Newton City Planning Board, New- 
ton, Mass. 

E. P. Goodrich, Consulting Engineer, Borough of Manhattan, New 

J. H. Gundlach, Vice-Chairman, City Plan Commission, St. Louis, 

B. A. Haldeman, Assistant Engineer, Bureau of Surveys, Philadel- 
phia, Pa. 

S. Herbert Hare, Landscape Architect, Kansas City, Mo. 

Edward R. Hathaway, Mayor, New Bedford, Mass. 

Munson Havens, Secretary, Chamber of Commerce, Cleveland, Ohio. 

R. W. Hemphill, Jr., Division Manager, Eastern Michigan Edison 
Co., Ann Arbor, Mich. 

E. M. Herlihy, Secretary, City Planning Board, Boston, Mass. 
Edwin S. Herman, President, City Planning Commission, Harris- 
burg, Pa. 

Robert Hoffman, Commissioner and Chief Engineer, Department of 
Public Service, Cleveland, Ohio. 

George E. Hooker, Civic Secretary, City Club, Chicago, HI. 

Richard M. Hurd, President, Lawyers Mortgage Co., New York City. 

Stanley H. Hutchinson, Executive Secretary, Board of Trade, Frank- 
lin, Pa. 

John Ihlder, Field Secretary, National Housing Association, New 
York City. 

F. Ellis Jackson, Architect, Providence, R. I. 
Fred W. Keller, Mayor, South Bend, Ind. 
Robert D. Kohn, Architect, New York City. 

A. J. Lawton, Commissioner, Public Works and Property, Colorado 
Springs, Col. 

Meyer Lissner, Lawyer, Los Angeles, Cal. 

W. S. Mackendrick, Toronto, Canada. 

Milo R. Maltbie, Member, Advisory Commission on City Plan, New 
York City. 

H. J. March, Civil Engineer, Utility Engineering Co., New Bruns- 
wick, N. J. 

Benjamin C. Marsh, Secretary, Congestion Committee, New York 

Henry H. Meyers, Secretary, Advisory City Plan Commission, Al- 
ameda, Cal. 

Cyrus C. Miller, Chairman, Executive Committee, Advisory Council 
of Real Estate Interests, New York City. 

Leslie W. Miller, Secretary, Fairmount Park Association, Phila- 
delphia, Pa. 



E. T. Mische, Park Board, Portland, Ore. 

Clifford B. Moore, Consulting Engineer, Borough of Queens, New 

J. C. Murphy, Architect, Louisville, Ky. 

J. J. Murphy, Commissioner, Tenement House Department, New 
York City. 

W. M. O'Shaughnessy, City Engineer, Department of Public Works, 
San Francisco, Cal. 

Charles H. Parsons, Chairman, Planning Commission, Springfield, 

T. Glenn Phillips, Secretary, City Plan and Improvement Commis- 
sion, Detroit, Mich. 

Allen B. Pond, Architect, Chicago, 111. 

A. J. Porter, President, Shredded Wheat Co., Niagara Falls, N. Y. 

Frederic B. Pratt, President, Brooklyn Committee on City Plan, 
Brooklyn, N. Y. 

Charles F. Puff, Jr., Surveyor and Regulator, Department of Public 
Works, Philadelphia, Pa. 

Edward K. Putnam, Real Estate, Davenport, Iowa. 

J. R. Reynolds, Secretary, City Plan Commission, Erie, Pa. 

Chas. Mulford Robinson, Specialist in Town Planning, Rochester, 
N. Y. 

Morris R. Sherrerd, Chief Engineer, Department of Public Works, 
Newark, N. J. 

William C. Stanton, Secretary, Department of Public Works, Phila- 
delphia, Pa. 

John K. Stauffer, Secretary, City Planning Commission, Reading, Pa. 

Frank Stevens, Jersey City, N. J. 

Vincent S. Stevens, Secretary, Chamber of Commerce, Akron, Ohio. 

C. A. Sundstrom, Bureau of Surveys, Department of Public Works, 

Philadelphia, Pa. 
H. E. Sweet, Mayor, Attleboro, Mass. 

Howard E. Taylor, Secretary, Board of Trade, Pittsfield, Mass. 
Alfred H. Terry, City Engineer, Bridgeport, Conn. 
Town Planning Board, Watertown, Mass. 
Louis L. Tribus, Consulting Engineer, New York City. 

D. L. Turner, Deputy Engineer, Subway Construction, Public Serv- 

ice Commission, New York. 

George W. Tuttle, Principal Assistant Engineer, Topographical Bu- 
reau, Borough of Richmond, New York. 

Richard B. Watrous, Secretary, American Civic Association, Wash- 
ington, D. C. 

A. L. White, President, Park Board, Spokane, Wash. 

G. Gordon Whitnall, Secretary, City Planning Commission, Los 
Angeles, Cal. 



W. S. Willigerod, City Engineer, East Orange, N. J. 

L. D. Woodworth, Secretary, Garfield Real Estate Co., Rochester, 

N. Y. 
Henry C. Wright, Commissioner, Department of Public Charities, 

New York City. 
Phelps Wyman, Landscape Architect, Minneapolis, Minn. 

Question 1. — Should some single city planning office or authority 
be created in each city with at least the following powers and duties? 

(a) The adoption and revision of a tentative plan for the physical 
development of the city. 

(6) The correlation of particular improvements, by whatever au- 
thority originated, with the requirements of the comprehensive plan. 

There were 80 replies, of which 79 were in favor of a single planning 
office or authority with the powers specified, and one, while in favor 
of a city planning office or authority, suggested that in a large city 
there might be several city planning authorities, one in each borough 
or appropriate local subdivision. 

Extracts from Certain Replies to Question 1 

Thomas Adams, Ottawa, Canada: 

Yes; but a tentative plan would be of no practical value beyond 
being an illustration for the guidance of a city or town authority. 
As the latter should, however, be an executive body, it should pre- 
pare no tentative plan, except under legislative powers which would 
protect its interests while proceeding from the tentative to the defi- 
nite stage of planning. 

William C. Stanton, Philadelphia, Pa.: 

(a) It is advisable that a city planning office or authority should be 
created in every city, particularly in those having a form of govern- 
ment resulting from time to time in complete changes of administra- 
tion with the officials holding their office for a relatively short time. 
Such city planning authority should be composed of members whose 
terms would overlap, affording opportunity for a continuous scheme 
of development. The adoption and revision of an elastic tentative 
plan for the physical development of the city is quite necessary and 
should be prepared to meet the necessities of the municipality for a 
period of from 15 to 50 years in advance, depending upon the size 
and growth of the locality. 

(6) All improvements contemplated, either in the immediate 
future or at a later period, should be incorporated in such a compre- 
hensive plan, which should be of such elasticity as readily to be modi- 



fied to meet the average unforeseen emergency. In the preparation 
of such a plan careful attention should be paid to the larger princi- 
ples, leaving the details to be perfected at a time when the perma- 
nent improvements are undertaken. By following such procedure — 
although the first cost in some instances may be greater — there will 
result eventually a considerable economy through the avoiding of 
needless repetition and overlapping of improvements and develop- 

Louis L. Tribus, New York City: 

There can be no adequate comprehensive plan for" New York 
City, for long before any really intelligent plan has been worked out, 
the generation desiring to act under one will have died and new 
ideas will prevail; consequently advisory powers only need be 
vested in a commission. 

Question 2. — Should the creation of a city planning authority be 
made mandatory or permissive? 

Seventy-six replies were received; 45 favored making the creation 
of a city planning authority mandatory; 2 favored the mandatory 
method in case the city planning authority had merely advisory 
powers; 25 favored the permissive method and 4 the permissive 
method at first, but eventually the mandatory method. 

Extracts from Certain Replies to Question 2 
Alfred Bettman, Cincinnati, Ohio: 

In so far as any particular municipality is concerned, the creation 
of a city planning authority should be permissive. This is upon 
general home rule principles and not peculiar to city planning. The 
charter of a city, adopted by the people of that city, should make the 
creation of such an authority mandatory. 

Arthur C. Comey, Boston, Mass.: 

I favor the permissive city planning authority if that authority is 
to be given extensive powers, which are mentioned in the circular and 
which I also favor. If the city planning authority, so called, is to be 
merely an advisory board, as it is at present in Massachusetts, I 
favor following the Massachusetts precedent of making such boards 
mandatory. While their value in the early stages of city planning is 
great, I am convinced that ultimately they will prove an inefficient 
means of promoting city planning. 

John J. Murphy, New York City: 

The creation of a city planning authority ought to be mandatory. 
I do not think this is a violation of the policy of home rule any more 

[ 278 ] 


than is the requirement that a city shall have regular officials for the 
operation of orderly government. The principle of home rule is not 
invaded by the creation of necessary or desirable authorities which, 
in the judgment of the state, are necessary for the welfare of those 
citizens residing in municipalities. It is when the legislature either 
attempts to prescribe who shall be the members of such bodies or 
what they shall do that the home rule principle is vitiated. I do not 
think therefore, in view of the important work which a city planning 
committee can do, that there should be serious objection to making 
it a mandatory requirement. This is especially true in view of the 
necessity for the work of the committee being consistent and con- 

Allen B. Pond, Chicago, 111.: 

In my judgment the city planning art and the general knowledge 
thereof have not reached a point in America where it is wise or safe 
to make it mandatory that every community, even of a certain mini- 
mum size, should establish such an authority. America has not 
learned to appreciate the value and function of expert service, has 
not learned correctly to pass on qualifications for expert service. 
So far as town planning is concerned, much of the work that has been 
suggested thus far in America is, in my judgment, superficial in char- 
acter, dealing largely with esthetic features and with city planning 
viewed from a scenic standpoint rather than from its fundamental 
relations to the functioning of a city organism. For these reasons I 
do not think that the time is ripe for a mandatory law, however de- 
sirable such law may seem on a priori grounds. We may hope, even 
though we may not justly presume, that any community which seeks 
to adopt by referendum a permissive law will have reached a stage in 
its comprehension of the subject such that it may be given power 
under a permissive act. 

G. Gordon Whitnall, Los Angeles, Cal.: 

In cities of large proportions or having the physical probabilities 
of at some time becoming large, the creation of the authority should 
be mandatory, as a general rule. A lack of such authority results in- 
evitably in certain community "diseases" that have a definite unde- 
sirable influence on the collective individual life of the community. 
A municipality should be compelled to consider such conditions just 
as much as the lesser evils of contagion where, if the city does not 
act, the power higher up steps in. 

Question 3. — Should the city planning authority, in order to carry 
out its function of correlating the particular improvement with the 
requirements of the comprehensive plan, be given 



(a) An absolute veto? 

(b) A veto that may be overridden by vote of council or other 

(c) Merely the opportunity to investigate and report? 

(d) A combination of the above, i. e., an absolute veto in certain 
cases and merely an opportunity to present a report in other cases? 

Seventy-four replies were received; 9 favored merely advisory 
powers; 7 favored absolute veto; 28 favored a veto that could be 
overridden by vote of council or other authority, and 30 favored some 
combination of the above methods. 

Extracts from Certain Replies to Question 3 
Harland Bartholomew, Newark, N. J.: 

A veto that may be overridden by vote of council or other author- 
ity. A city planning authority is usually appointive, seldom, if ever, 
elective. To invest it with power of absolute veto would be contrary 
to the principles of good government. Power to investigate only is 
insufficient and tends to belittle the authority and its position. A 
veto that may be overridden by vote of council or other authority 
is more nearly in accord with sensible government and will generally 
work out satisfactorily, provided the city planning authority will 
qualify its recommendations with a clear and concise statement of 
how and why these conclusions have been reached. This custom 
prevails in Newark and has succeeded in instances too numerous to 

E. H. Bennett, Chicago, III.: 

A veto that may be overridden by vote of council is in all proba- 
bility to be preferred. The experience in Chicago has shown very 
clearly that veto power in some form or other is desirable, as it is neces- 
sary for a plan commission to have such standing as will enable it 
to be recognized and not be put in the position of wasting its strength 
fighting for recognition. 

Alfred Bettman, Cincinnati, Ohio: 

I think the device which was worked out in the proposed charter 
for the city of Cincinnati is the best. It provides for a veto that 
may be overridden by a vote of council, the vote of at least two- thirds 
of the membership being required for overruling the disapproval of 
the planning commission. In addition to this vote of council there 
is also required, to overrule the commission, the vote of the head of 
the particular department under which the proposed improvement 
falls. The theory back of this device is obviously that separate de- 



partments in a city government, which have absolute powers inde- 
pendent of each other and independent of the main administration 
and council, are apt to tend to delay, inefficiency and even worse 
evils, and that, where the administrative and legislative functions 
are kept separate, there should be at least one point in the adminis- 
trative departments, and one point in the legislative department, 
where control and responsibility finally concentrate for the whole 
city program and finance. Therefore, if the head of the department 
under which the proposed improvement falls and two-thirds of the 
council are agreed upon disagreeing with the city planning commission, 
the latter's desires should not prevail. Our belief in this arrangement 
is not the result of any experience with city planning, for Cincinnati 
has as yet had little experience with city planning. It is the result of 
observation of the working of the city government generally. 

Arthur C. Comey, Boston, Mass.: 

I do not believe in absolute veto, inasmuch as the council might 
abolish a planning board and pass ordinances before reinstating it, 
as has been done in the case of art commissions. I do favor the veto 
which may be overridden by vote of the council, as the council will 
naturally hesitate to do this except in extreme cases. 

Mayo Fesler, Cleveland, Ohio: 

I am not sure that the city planning commission should be given 
an absolute veto. It should require at least a majority vote of the 
council to override its action. It should probably have an absolute 
veto on questions of design and location and the power to make 
specific recommendations for a broader city plan. 

Charles E. Gibson, Newton, Mass.: 

The possession of the veto power in any degree would add a new 
and confusing element in the organization of municipalities, an 
element directly contrary to the present tendency in municipal admin- 
istration reform, which is toward small legislative bodies and concen- 
trated executive powers. The possession of the veto power would 
immediately raise acutely the question whether the planning board 
should be appointed or elected. If it possesses the veto power, it 
would almost necessarily become one of the strongest forces in mu- 
nicipal government. We believe that, so long as a planning board 
has merely advisory powers which it exercises with ability and sound 
judgment, it is freer in action and its opinion will have greater 

B. A. Haldeman, Philadelphia, Pa.: 

The city planning authority should have power of absolute con- 
firmation in certain kinds of improvements and should have power to 



investigate and report upon such improvements as may not be an 
essential part of the tentative plan itself, but may have considerable 
influence in the effectual carrying out of the purposes of the plan. 

Edward R. Hathaway, New Bedford, Mass.: 

Theoretically the idea of a city planning board appeals to me, as 
it undoubtedly does to every other city executive. So far as matters 
of investigation and report are concerned, I am willing to agree that 
such a board would be of practical advantage. Government in this 
country, as I understand the principle, is government by the people, 
and this means all the people. Naturally those who are elected by 
the people should be willing to seek and consider advice from a think- 
ing group of public spirited citizens, who may be appointed a plan- 
ning board or who may act from individual initiative, but I firmly 
believe that the time has not come when the powers of the people to 
govern themselves, in whatever direction they deem wise, should be 
taken from them; and at the present time the officers elected by the 
people are fully able to care for the civic problems which are liable 
to arise. 

S. Herbert Hare, Kansas City, Mo.: 

The city planning authority, in order to carry out its function, 
should be given a power which would be stronger than merely an in- 
vestigation and report. On the other hand the power of absolute 
veto would be too strong in cases where the city planning department 
comes under the control of political factions or other interests, as 
may be expected in some cases. Again, errors of judgment are always 
liable to be made in the most conscientious work. In place of the 
combination suggested under subhead (d) I would suggest a combina- 
tion of (a) and (6), that is, of absolute veto in certain cases and a veto 
that may be overridden by a decisive vote of council or other author- 
ity in other cases. 

Robert Hoffman, Cleveland, Ohio: 

It seems somewhat inconsistent to me to establish a city planning 
authority with absolute power to inaugurate or prevent undertakings 
at variance with those possibly being carried out by elective authori- 
ties or not in compliance with the sentiment of the majority. It 
would seem that method (d), namely, "an absolute veto in certain 
cases and merely an opportunity to present a report in other cases," 
would probably prove equally effective and meet with less opposi- 
tion than with the other suggestions made. 

John Ihlder, New York City: 

(a) Should not be an absolute veto. City planning is too new for 
us to be very rigid in our requirements. First, we cannot yet be sure 



that the boards themselves will always decide wisely. Second, and 
quite as important, we cannot be sure that the people will back them 
up in their decisions, especially in cases where there is a plausible 
reason for some public improvement which will serve an immediate 
need, but will be a decided detriment, or a cause of considerable 
wasted energy and money, when considered as part of the whole city 
plan. So it seems to me it would be wiser to permit of considerable 
flexibility for a few years while both the boards and the people are 
learning the practical value of city planning and learning how to 
apply it. 

(6) Yes. A veto that may be overridden by vote of council or 
other authority gives the city planning board enough power to make 
its members feel that they are doing something practical and yet does 
not enable them to stop public improvements arbitrarily and without 
the consent of other authorities. During these first years at least, it 
seems to me, the city planning board should carry its points by weight 
of argument and reason rather than by the exercise of power. A con- 
ditional veto, such as this, will force the other authorities to listen to 
the city planning board's reasons. 

Hon. William A. Magee, Pittsburgh, Pa.: l 

I feel that the commission ought to have some measure of con- 
trol over all projects which affect the physical growth of the city. 
This power should not be absolute. I think the proper measure of 
control would be effected by requiring the reconsideration on the 
part of the councilmen or aldermen of those ordinances which have 
been vetoed by the commission. The real value of the veto lies in 
the fact that the attention of the public is attracted to another view 
of the question. If the opinions of the planning commission on the 
vetoed ordinances have merit, no doubt enough public attention to 
the matter will be attracted by the publication of the planning com- 
mission's veto message. The final judgment of the councilmen or 
aldermen, therefore, will be based not only on having two views of 
the matter presented to them, but the views of the planning commis- 
sion will be fortified to the extent of their value by expressions of 
public opinion through the newspapers and other media of public 

William C. Stanton, Philadelphia, Pa.: 

(a) All city planning authority should be chosen from among the 
type of men which represents the highest, most intellectual and 
broadest minded citizens or officials of the communities in question. 

1 See "Proceedings of the Fifth National Conference on City Planning, 
Mav 5-7, 1913." 



They should be given certain powers, but it is rather difficult to 
decide upon what questions an absolute veto should be in their 

(6) A veto that may be overridden by veto of council or other 
authority. Such vote of the representatives of the people is, while 
valuable, nevertheless not conducive to the best results, as often the 
citizens or other representatives are not sufficiently conversant with 
the technical problems to be dealt with as should be the members of a 
city planning commission, and such action is a serious reflection upon 
the intelligence of men who have presumably given deep considera- 
tion to the various problems. 

(c) A city planning commission with no authority other than that 
of investigation, while of a certain value, is nevertheless laboring under 
a severe disadvantage in that they may spend considerable time and 
go to some expense in making investigations only to have their rec- 
ommendations ignored. As most of these city planning commissions 
serve "gratis," it is apt to be most discouraging to the members if 
they have no way of enforcing their views. 

(d) A combination of the above, having a committee clothed with 
absolute powers in certain cases and modified powers in others, might 
be a proper solution. 

Allen B. Pond, Chicago, III.: 

In my judgment the authority should be given an absolute veto, 
not one that may be overridden by vote of council or other authority. 
The most that should be granted in the way of outside interference 
should be a stop order which will enforce, if the city council or other 
constituted authority should think necessary, a delay, consultation 
with other experts and a public hearing; but the constituted au- 
thority should have full power to act after such delay, consultation 
and hearing. It would, in my judgment, be fatal to allow passing 
(temporary) elected officials or officials appointed for other reasons 
to challenge successfully decisions of a proper expert body, and no 
city plan authority should be created except with a full view to the 
scope of its power and the consequent necessity that its personnel be 
men of suitable attainments and high character. 

Question k> — Should the comprehensive tentative plan include 
the following? 
(a) Street system. 
(6) Park and playground system. 

(c) Transit system. 

(d) Grouping of public buildings. 

(e) Rail and water terminals. 
(/) Markets. 



(g) Districting of city for purpose of regulating the height, area 
and use of buildings. 

(h) What other matters should be included? 

Seventy-four replies were received, all but one of which agreed that 
the items indicated in (a) to (g) inclusive should be included in the 
comprehensive plan. The one objection was to districting of the city 
for the purpose of regulating the height, area and use of buildings. 
Various other matters were suggested by one or two individuals for 
inclusion in the comprehensive plan, such as water and sewer sys- 
tems, disposal of waste and garbage, water fronts, preservation of 
places of natural beauty or historic interest, regulation of advertis- 
ing signs, construction and location of wires and poles, location of un- 
derground structures, bridges, cemeteries, fire safety and housing. 

Question 5. — Should the function of an art jury or commission be 
combined with those of a city planning authority? 

Seventy-one replies were received; 32 were opposed to the com- 
bination of an art jury with the city planning authority; 9 were op- 
posed to such combination, except for small cities, and 30 favored the 

Extracts from Certain Replies to Question 5 

Thomas Adams, Ottawa, Canada: 

If architectural control is sought in a scheme, the best system of 
control is through a consultative architect or permanent official archi- 
tect of the local authority, with an art commission as a body of appeal 
on architectural and similar points instead of a court of law. 

Roger N. Baldwin, St. Louis, Mo.: 

We believe here that the art commission should be entirely sepa- 
rate from the city plan commission as the functions are quite differ- 
ent. A group of persons passing upon a public improvement from 
the point of view of its appearance has entirely different considera- 
tions in mind than from one passing upon it from the point of view 
of its utility and place in a general plan. 

Charles E. Gibson, Newton, Mass.: 

The answer to this question depends very largely upon the size and 
character of the city affected. In a small city having few problems 
for an art commission, a special commission would seem to be un- 
necessary. In a large city, or one where many problems of artistic 
character were under consideration, a separate commission should be 
appointed. The practical engineering, health and business problems 



appropriate to a planning board call for different qualities than those 
required by an art commission. Close cooperation should be secured 
between two such bodies. 

Robert Hoffman, Cleveland, Ohio: 

I see no reason why the city planning authority should not assume 
the functions of an art jury or commission. This would not neces- 
sarily mean that the members themselves should pass upon matters 
of art, but that they could have power to provide for the establish- 
ment of an advisory commission, as the same might be required. 

John Ihlder, New York City: 

The function of an art jury or commission should not be combined 
with those of a city planning authority. The functions of the two are 
quite distinct. The city planning board has to do primarily with the 
practical utility of proposed improvements, the art jury primarily 
with the artistic execution of those improvements. For instance, the 
first decides that a bridge of a certain capacity is needed at a certain 
point. The second passes only upon the artistic quality of the design 
— example of art commission's function, the designs of the bridges at 
Spuyten Duyvil and Hell Gate. 

F. Ellis Jackson, Providence, R. I.: 

No. For several reasons it would seem that such an arrangement 
would be inadvisable, inasmuch as many persons who would be best 
qualified to act on an art jury or commission would not be satisfactory 
members of the city planning authority, dealing in large and impor- 
tant matters closely allied to commercial and physical conditions. 
It is possible that a commission might be a subcommission of the city 
planning authority, but it would seem advisable that the art commis- 
sion and city planning authority should work in harmony with a pos- 
sible mutual member serving on each of these commissions. 

Robert D. Kohn, New York City: 

On your question No. 5 I have very decided opinions. It seems to 
me fatal to permit the combination of an art jury or commission with 
a city planning authority. I take the liberty to attach hereto a copy 
of a report recently sent to Cleveland on the proposed city planning 
commission organization for that city. 

The particular function of an art commission is not necessarily con- 
sistent with the work of a city planning commission and may in some 
ways be inconsistent with such work. The two functions should not 
be performed by the same class of persons. The class of persons that 
should serve on an art commission is entirely different from the par- 
ticular class that may properly be selected to serve on a city planning 



commission. While it is very desirable, as I understand the situation 
in Cleveland at the present time, that the city planning commission 
shall be composed in the main, if not entirely, of responsible city 
officials, working with the advice and guidance of well informed 
citizens and experts, it is highly undesirable, in my opinion, that any 
city official, with the exception of possibly the mayor, should be on 
an art commission. The majority of matters that come before an art 
commission for approval or disapproval are matters that are presented 
by heads of city departments in connection with their official work. 
Such submissions should be passed on by a commission of experts, 
architects, painters and sculptors, with the addition of a number of 
public spirited citizens, chosen from the art-loving and art-knowing 
public. In most cities the choice is made by the mayor from among 
the officers of the art museums, the universities and the patrons of 
the fine arts. Under the New York Charter the choice of both artists 
and laymen is made by the mayor from a list presented for his consid- 
eration by the federated arts societies of the city (Fine Arts Federa- 

My main point here is that your commission has of necessity fre- 
quently to oppose or require the modification of a design submitted 
by city officials, and therefore the city officials should not be on the 
art commission. It will lose most, if not all, of its effect if that be the 

The class of citizens that will be effective on the city planning com- 
mission may not be, and probably would not be, effective on an art 
commission. I hope I have been able to make clear why the two 
functions should be kept separate. I think every person that has had 
experience in any other city will say the same thing. An art com- 
mission should be kept in the main entirely outside of the functions 
of the city planning commission. It should be a commission of experts 
and laymen interested in the arts. The city planning commission 
may very properly be composed of city officials, advised by and work- 
ing with persons outside of the city government. 

Edward K. Putnam, Davenport, Iowa: 

The art commission should at least be allied with the plan com- 
mission. There might be a danger in actually combining the two. 
The business men might predominate on the plan commission, when 
they might not themselves be competent judges of works of art. On 
the other hand, if the art people predominated on the commission, 
undue emphasis might be laid on certain architectural and art fea- 
tures of the city, such as grouping all public buildings, and this might 
tend to make too much of the city beautiful and not enough of the 
city efficient. 



William C. Stanton, Philadelphia, Pa.: 

The function of an art jury should be combined with that of the 
city planning authority. The present function of most art juries is 
simply that of censorship, while the function of most city planning 
commissions is creative. Were the two functions combined in one 
body there would result a smoother and more rapid development with 
much less friction. 

Howard E. Taylor, Pittsfield, Mass.: 

I hardly think it practicable to combine the functions of an art 
jury or commission with the city planning authority, my opinion 
being based upon the belief that, if anything is to be accomplished 
by a city planning authority, it must satisfy the utilitarian in the 
mind of the American public, and too much art mixed in with its 
work would defeat any hope of its gaining any public support. 

Question 6. — How should the city planning authority be con- 

(a) The city engineer or other similar official? 

(6) A committee of the board of estimate, council, governing com- 
mission or similar body? 

(c) A special ex officio commission consisting of department heads 
or engineers having to do with the planning of particular functions? 

(d) A special commission composed of citizens who are not city 
officials and who serve without pay? 

Seventy-one replies were received; 2 favored the city engineer or 
other similar official; 3 favored a committee of the board of estimate, 
council, governing commission or similar body; 2 favored a special 
ex officio commission consisting of department heads or engineers 
having to do with the planning of particular functions; 28 favored a 
special commission composed of citizens who are not city officials and 
who served without pay, and 36 favored some combination of the 
four methods above enumerated. 

Extracts from Certain Replies to Question 6 
Harland Bartholomew, Newark, N. J.: 

A city planning authority should be small, consisting of five mem- 
bers in cities over 100,000 population and of three members in cities 
under 100,000 population. If desirable to enlarge this authority, add 
to it such other citizens and officials as may be desired as advisory 
members only. A five-member authority should consist of the city 
engineer and one other representative city official, for instance, a 
member of the board of estimate, council, governing commission or 
similar body, the other three members to be citizens, preferably a 



lawyer, an architect and a representative business man. An authority 
of three members should consist of the city engineer and two citizens, 
preferably a lawyer and a business man. 

E. M. Bassett, New York City: 

The city legislature (council) should be the final authority on all 
questions of city planning. The city engineering office should be the 
student and workman on the city plan. Commissions created should 
be advisory. 

John J. Murphy, New York City: 

Personally, I prefer the suggestion made in subdivision (d) of this 
number. I think that the body ought not to be composed of public 
officials. Such a committee can command at any time the services of 
such officials, and I think its decisions ought to be entirely free from 
control by city administration. 

Alfred Bettman, Cincinnati, Ohio: 

Here again I would recommend the plan which we worked out for 
the said proposed Cincinnati Charter. In that case the number seven 
was adopted, of which four were to be citizens other than city officials. 
This was to put the city officials in a minority on the planning com- 
mission, and the citizen members were given terms that would not be 
coterminus with those of the official members. The official members 
were to be the mayor and the director of highways and the president 
of the park board. Of all executive officials, the mayor might natu- 
rally be expected to be most interested in city planning and the proper 
correlation of the different classes of public improvements. The 
other two members were chosen on the principle of placing on the 
commission the heads of those two departments which have charge of 
the public works of the classes which, quantitatively at least, are most 
related to city planning. The general principle of some citizen mem- 
bers and some official members is a good one, and among the latter 
the mayor ought certainly be chosen. Just which of the other depart- 
ment heads should belong to the planning commission would depend 
on the particular form of departmental organization in each city. 

City Planning Board of Boston, Boston, Mass.: 

Different plans might be best in different places. The Boston plan 
is that listed as (d), except that the members of the board, five in 
number, are appointed by the mayor (under a mandatory state law) 
and that the board is a city department. This plan has its weakness, 
for the board has practically no power and very little money, but 
would not (a) be likely to be too narrow a plan, and would not (b) and 
(c) tend to be casual and not sufficiently concentrated upon the plan- 
ning function? 



Mayo Fesler, Cleveland, Ohio: 

The city planning commission should be constituted in part of city 
officials and in part of citizens holding no official relation to the gov- 
ernment. The difficulty of having department heads compose a 
commission is that they are already swamped with the details of the 
work and cannot give sufficient attention to a comprehensive plan 
for the city. 

B. A. Haldeman, Philadelphia, Pa.: 

The city planning authority should be an executive department 
of the city government in larger cities and should be a department of 
the state government for the preparation of plans for the development 
of rural sections and the smaller communities. A department of this 
kind should be charged with the duty of preparing tentative plans and 
officially establishing certain of them and should have an organiza- 
tion permitting it to make all the investigations and perform all the 
work necessary to the preparation of such plans. Official approval of 
the plans should be in the hands of a board of confirmation constituted 
in such a manner that its personnel may not be subject to radical 
changes, as it is essential to the proper carrying out of such plans that 
the officials having authority should be able to establish and maintain 
consistent and continuing policies which shall not be subject to vio- 
lent changes. It might be possible in some cities for this board to be 
composed of the heads of the various executive departments. 

S. Herbert Hare, Kansas City, Mo. 

The city planning authority should be constituted to a great extent 
of citizens of broad ideas and sound judgment, serving with or with- 
out pay, together with representatives of the city government in the 
form of the city engineer, committee of the council or even a regular 
commission in the case of commission government. Experts in the 
various fields should be in regular or occasional consultation. 

Robert Hoffman, Cleveland, Ohio: 

The city planning authority should, I believe, contain certain 
public officials, whose retention in office is continuous and who are 
not subject to frequent removals on account of political changes, and 
whose work is intimately connected with that of such a city planning 
authority. This might include positions such as city engineer, engi- 
neer of parks and city architects. It would also seem that certain 
elective or appointive officials, as, for instance, the mayor, director of 
public service, director of finance and president of the council, could 
be considered in connection with such authority. In addition there 
should be a number of citizens who are not city officials and who are 
especially adapted for work of the kind required and who should 
constitute a majority of the commission. 



John Ihlder, New York City: 

I believe that the city planning board should be a special commis- 
sion of citizens, not city officials, to serve without pay, but with power 
to call upon city officials for information and advice. In an ex officio 
commission the members are likely to be so engrossed with the details 
of their own individual work that they can spend little time or thought 
in considering the city as a whole. In addition there is likely to be a 
little rivalry between departments, so that suggestions originating in 
one will not be received with acclamation by others. The city plan- 
ning board should have a paid secretary who will give all his time to 
the work. 

Hon. William A. Magee, Pittsburgh, Pa.: 1 

No particular executive officer should be on this commission unless 
all can be. In a city that has a commission form of government, say, 
not more than three or five commissioners, I should say that all ought 
to be on the planning commission. In a very small city, if there is one 
particular officer that has practically all public work under his control, 
I should say that he ought to be on the planning commission. But in 
larger cities of several hundred thousand, where there is a wide dis- 
tribution of executive authority, it would be a hazardous experiment 
to take on anyone, in view of the jealousy which might be aroused. 
It certainly could not take all heads of departments, for your com- 
mission would be made unwieldy. My way of meeting the difficulty 
is to have the commission obtain its authority directly from the chief 
executive of the city, who, at least in theory, has all the administra- 
tive functions directly or indirectly under his control. If the planning 
commissioners receive their appointments from the mayor, they are 
most likely to have the effective cooperation of all the heads of de- 
partments, since they are all subordinate to the chief executive. 

Benjamin C. Marsh, New York City: 

The city planning authority should be appointed by the mayor 
and should include the city engineer, or other similar official, and the 
department head or engineer having to do with the planning of par- 
ticular functions. A special volunteer advisory committee of citizens 
who are not city officials would be advisable, but the ultimate power 
to decide the city planning should be vested in the city officials. 

Allen B. Pond, Chicago, III.: 

The objection to having the backbone or controlling force in the 
city planning authority vested as in forms (a), (b) and (c) is the passing 

1 See "Proceedings of the Fifth National Conference on City Planning, 
May 5-7, 1913." 



character of such officials, and therefore of commissions thus con- 
stituted, and the reasonable presumption that under conditions pre- 
vailing in American city politics such officials and commissions would 
be largely unfit for the function. If a commission is established under 
form (d) with specified duration of term of service of individuals com- 
posing it and the overlapping of the terms of individual members, 
this will give a much stronger guarantee of wise policy in the first 
place and of more permanency to the policy thereafter. The authority 
vested in such a commission and the fact that it is reasonably per- 
manent in its constituency will tend to dictate careful and wise selec- 
tion of its members in the first instance. City officials, particularly if 
elective, should be added to this commission or made parts of it only 
as a minority, nor should such elective officials plus appointed offi- 
cials, such as city engineers and the like, when combined constitute a 
majority. I take it that it would be possible to draw the act in ques- 
tion or the charter provision so that the commission would have power 
to call upon city engineers and similar functionaries, corporation 
counsels and the like for information and facts without such officials 
being voting members of the commission. 

The commission should have in it men who are particularly expert 
in certain aspects of the work required to be done, architects, engi- 
neers, transportation experts, park and playground experts and the 
like; but it is absolutely essential that there be in its membership, 
and especially at the head of the commission, the sort of person whose 
breadth of view will enable him to see far beyond the scope of the 
ordinary expert in some one field, to the end that the suggestions of 
the experts may be whipped into shape and made to serve a total and 
greater unity than otherwise could be achieved. My experience has 
led me to a high regard for the specific value of expert service and a 
rather low esteem of the ability of experts to see the larger aspects of 
their own field where such field has to be related to an inclusive scheme. 
It is my impression, perhaps somewhat biased, that this more in- 
clusive view is more likely to be found with architects than with any 
other one class of the population at the present time, although it may 
be found in some all-round connoisseur as well. 

Frederic B. Pratt, Brooklyn, N. Y.: 

The city planning authority should consist of representatives of 
the city engineer's department and representatives of the board of 
estimate. I do not believe it wise for citizens who are not in the em- 
ploy of the city to be members of this commission. 

Edward K. Putnam, Davenport, Iowa: 

As to the makeup of a city planning authority, to have this work 
done by the city engineer or by a committee of the city council keeps 



it too close to city politics. It seems to me the best results could 
come from a combination commission made up of certain officials 
ex officio and of citizens. The president of this commission should 
be a citizen and not an official, and the citizen should predominate 
on the commission, but the officials should be sufficiently well repre- 
sented to be made to feel that they are vitally interested in the work. 

William C. Stanton, Philadelphia, Pa.: 

(a) City planning authority may be constituted in various ways, 
depending upon the size of the municipality. If it is possible to ob- 
tain a man possessed of the necessary qualifications, it is often much 
simpler to engage him and clothe him with full powers subject to 
proper precautions. Larger communities generally require a com- 
mission. The city engineer should by all means be a member of such 
board, as he is generally presumed to have some knowledge on the 
subject in question. In small cities he might be vested with full 

(6) A committee of the board of estimate, council or government 
commission might constitute a very able body but for the fact that 
most of these boards serve for a stated period and may not succeed 

(c) A special ex officio commission consisting of department heads 
and engineers welded into a city planning committee, even though it 
be not vested with powers as a committee, nevertheless contains in 
itself, through the officials of the municipality, the necessary power 
to form a very efficient commission, provided their terms be overlap- 
ping and the body continuous. 

(d) A commission composed of citizens who are not city officials 
and who serve without pay is liable eventually to become less ef- 
ficient. The members of such a commission are generally men whose 
time is extremely valuable, and their attendance at numerous meet- 
ings may ultimately affect seriously their private interests. If such a 
commission be composed of members who receive remuneration and 
give a certain definite portion of their time to the work, results might 
be much better. 

John K. Stauffer, Reading, Pa.: 

As city planning contemplates the wisest and most comprehen- 
sive development through a course of many years, and especially with 
respect to far-sighted plans for the acquisition of areas necessary for 
future park spaces and other public uses, determination of these prob- 
lems should not be made a part of the routine work of short-term city 
officials or their immediate subordinates in appointive positions. Men 
elected or appointed to office for terms of two, three or four years 
are expected to execute existing laws and enact such new regulations 



as may be found expedient for the most efficient management of 
public affairs in the immediate present, i. e., for the one year for 
which they are apportioning the available municipal revenues under 
a budget, or in contemplation of the two, three or four year period 
of their respective terms of service. The city planning authority, on 
the other hand, should represent individual and collective vision, 
soundness of judgment and fixity of purpose respecting city devel- 
opment through decades to come. Once it convinces the community 
that it possesses and is exercising these qualifications it may expect 
an ever-increasing public support for the carrying out of its recom- 
mendations, which is the essential need after the preparation of a 
comprehensive plan. As a non-partisan board it should gain public 
support in a larger measure than if the recommendations came from 
a board of city officials whose election or appointment springs prima- 
rily from political sources. To make progress in winning the support 
of the entire municipality, regardless of all political complexities, it 
appears best results may be expected from an appointive board of 
five members, for instance, with the term of one member expir- 
ing each year and his successor being designated for a five-year 

Municipalities pay their officials for service rendered in conduct- 
ing the day by day administration along most efficient lines because 
public sentiment is a unit as to its necessity. So long as the city plan- 
ning authority is uncompensated, public sentiment may be expected 
to consider such a board largely ornamental, lacking in real powers 
and not vitally necessary to the city's present well-being and future 
growth. If the city planners are compensated somewhat in propor- 
tion to the time and interest they contribute to advancing the work 
properly coming under their jurisdiction, the general public is likely 
to be interested immediately to the extent of the cost to the public 
treasury, to require satisfactory evidence of the performance of the 
duties for which payment is made and to feel an increasing individual 
and community interest in the personnel and public advantages 
accruing from improvements accomplished. 

Louis L. Tribus, New York City: 

A board made up of the chief engineer of the board of estimate and 
apportionment, chairman ex officio; five engineers, one nominated by 
each borough president, salaried; one architect, nominated by the 
mayor, salaried; five laymen, one representing each borough, to be 
nominated by the mayor, fees; one secretary, appointed by the board 
of estimate and apportionment. The five engineers and architect to 
give constant service, also secretary, clerks, etc. ; the laymen and chief 
engineer to act in advisory capacity, the former being paid only for 
meetings attended where real service is given. 



George W. Tuttle, West New Brighton, N. Y.: 

Some city planning office or authority should be created where it 
does not exist, not necessarily single in large cities which are divided 
into boroughs or other considerable units, nor need it be separate 
from other civic duties in the case of small cities or towns, whose 
function is to initiate a comprehensive plan and correlate particu- 
lar improvements proposed, with its essential requirements, that a 
scheme of orderly development may be provided. 

It is believed that the office preparing the scheme should not have 
the power to legalize the map, but that the function of criticism, adop- 
tion or rejection should be intrusted to a commission made up of rep- 
resentative men, say an engineer, an architect, a representative of 
real estate interests, a representative of civic societies, etc., that the 
plan may fairly represent public opinion and obtain public support. 
The power to originate and adopt would be too great to rest in one in- 
dividual, since he might have ideas quite different from those pre- 
vailing in the community, or with other persons equally expert. 

The authority originating the plan and correlating proposed im- 
provements should usually be the city or borough engineer, as his 
office usually has the facilities and data for such work. 

Question 7. — Do you think it desirable that the city planning au- 
thority should first develop its tentative comprehensive plan before 
permitting itself to advise and recommend with reference to particular 

Seventy-two replies were received; 46 answered this question in 
the affirmative and 26 in the negative. 

Extract from Replies to Question 7 

B. A. Haldeman, Philadelphia, Pa.: 

W The preparation of a tentative comprehensive plan is an undertak- 
ing involving much investigation and labor and its proper devel- 
opment will consume considerable time; in the event of the establish- 
ment of a city planning department it should immediately be placed 
in the position of being able authoritatively to advise and recommend 
in the case of public improvements to be covered by the plan and over 
which it is expected to exercise jurisdiction. 

Question 8. — Should a state plan commission be created with 
duties to investigate and report and give aid and advice to the local 
planning authorities? 

Sixty-six replies were received; 25 opposed a state plan commission; 
20 were in favor of such a commission; 19 gave a qualified approval 



and 2 recommended that such a commission be a department of the 
national government. 

Extract from Replies to Question 8 
John K. Stauffer, Reading , Pa.: 

Appointment of a state plan commission would have a probable 
tendency to arouse local interest in two ways : one through publicity 
concerning what other cities are doing, and the other through expec- 
tation that a state board may render favors without local expense. 
Whatever stimulates public interest in city planning, so long as it 
does not crush out local initiative, may be considered advantageous 
to local growth. Correlation of the possible activities of cities of 
similar size and facing similar problems would seem to be the most 
evident advantage. 

Question 9. — In taking land for street purposes, should authority 
be conferred, either by statute or constitutional amendment, to deny 
compensation for buildings erected within the lines of proposed streets 
subsequent to the formal adoption of plans for such streets? 

Sixty-six replies were received; 5 answers were in the negative, 53 
in the affirmative and 8 gave a qualified approval. 

Thomas Adams, Ottawa, Canada: 

Of course, yes; except in so far as such compensation could have 
been made a subject of claim prior to formal adoption. There are 
also some directions in which legal power should be obtained to limit 
claims that can now be made. In Canada and Britain it is legal to fix 
building lines without giving the owner a right to claim compensa- 
tion, and in all fairness to owners, why not — if they are all treated 
alike under a statutory scheme? Except under legislative powers, 
however, no method that is equitable to owners can be employed to 
restrict the use of property, and that is one reason why city planning 
which is not preceded by legislation must be largely ineffective. 

B. A. Haldeman, Philadelphia, Pa.: 

The city planning authority should be invested with sufficient power 
to protect the plans officially established by it from encroachment by 
private improvements or changes which might impair their useful- 
ness and prohibit or greatly increase the cost of carrying them into 
effect. It might be necessary to devise some means for making com- 
pensation for actual losses suffered by individuals through the delay 
in carrying out the plans. 

Otto W. Davis, Minneapolis, Minn.: 

Impossible to answer by either yes or no. Compensation should 
be denied where the owner loses nothing by being deprived of the 



privilege of locating a building on the site for a proposed street. This 
would apply to undeveloped land on the outskirts of the city. Com- 
pensation should be made when land available for building purposes 
only is deprived of such use and yet not immediately taken by the 
city for street purposes. It is easy to conceive that a man might 
own a valuable vacant lot on which he intended to erect a building 
and that this lot would be so located as to be wholly included or so 
nearly included in the proposed street as to make it impossible either 
to sell or to use any portion of it for building purposes. Such an 
owner should, of course, be compensated and the improvement 
charged up to the owners of benefited property. 

William C. Stanton, Philadelphia, Pa.: 

Buildings located within the lines of proposed streets subsequent 
to their formal confirmation or adoption should be prohibited. No 
new structures or improvements to existing structures should be per- 
mitted except when such streets, although adopted, will not be opened 
for some considerable period, in which case certain additions and 
improvements might be allowed by the building department of 
the city after due investigation of all the circumstances. Some 
equitable arrangement should be made to compensate property 
owners for losses sustained owing to the neglect of a munici- 
pality to complete improvements contemplated within a reasonable 

Howard E. Taylor, Pittsfield, Mass.: 

My definite opinion is that there should be no authority conferred 
either by statute or constitutional amendment to deny compensa- 
tion for buildings erected within the lines of the proposed streets, 
subsequent to the formal adoption of plans for such streets. My 
reason for this opinion is that a city planning authority might adopt 
its tentative plan for future city building and then for one reason or 
another be delayed in carrying out the same for a period of years. 
It also might, for good reasons arising after having adopted such 
plans, cancel the same and substitute an entirely new plan. In 
such event the property owner, parts of whose property had been 
included in the tentative plan previously adopted, should not lose 
the ad interim right to improve his own property for his own 
profit, provided that such improvement is made <in good faith and 
not purely for the purpose of forcing the city to pay him exorbitant 
compensatory damages when his property is condemned for public 
purposes. As a corollary it follows that the court of jurisdiction 
should have the power of reviewing all condemnation cases arising 
when the city planning authority takes private property for public 



Question 10. — Should powers similar to those contained in the 
English Town Planning Act be vested in the local authorities? 

Fifty-nine replies were received; 55 replied in the affirmative and 
4 in the negative. 

Extracts from Certain Replies to Question 10 
Thomas Adams, Ottawa, Canada: 

I prefer the powers in the Nova Scotia act. No other method can 
lead to success in a democratic country than either the English or the 
Canadian acts, subject to adaptation to conditions in the States. 
The only alternatives are autocratic powers, which I imagine would 
not be acceptable in the States. 

Harland Bartholomew, Newark, N. J.: 

These powers accomplish the very results for which city planning 
here in America is striving. Proper community development is im- 
possible without them. 

Edward M. Bassett, New York City: 

The English Town Planning Act points the direction for our states 
to follow better than the precedents of any other country. It fits 
itself to our ideas of popular government and home rule. We should 
work toward something of the sort. 

G. Frank Beer, Toronto, Canada: 

No. The powers vested in the Local Government Board (Great 
Britain) are entirely too important and too far reaching to be left to 
local authorities. 

Otto W. Davis, Minneapolis, Minn.: 

The English Town Planning Act appealed very strongly to our 
committee and we undertook to develop a plan and prepare a bill for a 
similar act in Minnesota. We found the way strewn with so many 
difficulties that, one by one, the features of the act had to be given 
up until very little indeed was left. Will enclose copy of the bill 
which was introduced, but got no further than the committee. The 
passage of this bill would have done wonders for our local situation, 
as most of the future development of Minneapolis is certain to be 
within Hennepin County. At present there are 23 political divisions 
in the county accepting plats. Our committee deems town planning 
as worked out by the English, namely, that designed to prevent bad 
developments in the future, of more immediate importance by far 
for Minneapolis than the correction of existing evils, the development 
of a civic center, etc., although there is no reason why the two should 
not be "married," as an English town planner expressed it last 



summer. The point of view of our committee is given in the enclosed 

Our city is growing very rapidly and there is every indication that 
it will continue to grow equally rapidly for many years, largely be- 
cause of the tremendous development that is taking place throughout 
the whole Northwest. If we grow at the same rate as during the last 
census decade, we double in about 17 years, will have over a million 
population in 25 years and over two million population in 50 years 
from the last census. 

Some of us feel that American city planning has made a serious 
mistake in confining its activities almost wholly to land within the 
city limits. The problem which presses upon Minneapolis is that of 
properly planning the land lying immediately outside the city limits. 

B. A. Haldeman, Philadelphia, Pa.: 

I believe the city planning body should be clothed with pretty 
much the same authority as is conferred upon the Local Government 
Board by the British Town Planning Act, but I believe that the au- 
thority for creating and the organization for carrying the plans into 
effect should be somewhat different from those prescribed by the 
British act. 

George W. Tuttle, West New Brighton, N. Y.: 

Whether by adaptation of the British Town Planning Act or other- 
wise, some means should be found whereby the plan arrived at may be 
carried out by individuals and corporations, as well as by the public 
authorities. It is of little use to have an adequate plan on paper if 
it is to be ignored by real estate interests and property developed and 
improved on narrow, badly located streets laid out without regard to 
the plan. The plan, however, will ultimately have to conform to those 
streets by reason of the great expense and destruction involved in any 
change. Methods of private development and the policies of cities 
as to their plan are too far apart. 



Only the more important topics which are not plainly indicated 
by the titles of the articles are here indexed. 


Alleys 47, 48, 56, 69 

Art Commissions and Plan Commissions 139 

Canadian Planning Activities 164-165 

Continuity in City Planning 19-20 

Excess Taking of Land 38-39 

Exhibits on City Planning 39 

Courses in City Planning 40 

Engineer, the Municipal, as a City Planner 11-12 

English City Planning Legislation 153; 161 

Italian City Planning Legislation 152 

Lot Dimensions 49, 59-60; 68; 88ff.; lOlff. 

Standards of 47; 50; 51 

Lot Design 15-16 

Lot and Block Units 7-8 

Mandatory or Permissive City Planning 140; 165; 171; 174; 178-179; 184 

Park Facilities 8-9 

Plan of Detroit 24ff. 

Plan Commissions 

Composition of 138, 171; 181 

Functions of 139-141; 172 

Legislation creating 35-37 

Prussian City Planning Legislation 149 

Recreation Facilities 8-9 

River Front of Detroit 31-32 

Public Buildings, Location of 9-10 

Restrictions on the Use of Land 16-17; 47 




State Supervision of City Planning 143; 162ff . 

Street Car Routing, Detroit 29ff. 

Street Systems 5; 13-14 

of Detroit 22ff. 

of New York City 6 

Municipal Control of 182ff.; 190 

Tentative Plans 155-156; 188 

Zoning 37